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Monday, May 10, 2021

Baxley’s controversial bill targeting Bright Futures scholarships moves forward

Dennis Baxley
Dennis Baxley

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Dennis Baxley that could drastically alter or jeopardize Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program has moved to the House for consideration.

SB 86 would require that schools place a student’s Bright Futures account on hold until they receive “career readiness training” and confirm that they understand the financial implications of their career choice. A previous version of the controversial bill called for a list of majors that would make students eligible for the scholarships but that provision was axed by Baxley after a considerable amount of backlash.

But SB 86 still calls for the Florida Board of Governors that oversees the State University system of Florida to publish salary and student loan information on certain careers. And the guaranteed 100 percent or 75 percent funding levels that currently are guaranteed could be in jeopardy.

Baxley, a staunch conservative whose district includes Sumter County and parts of Lake and Marion counties, has said the bill is intended to make sure students have careers after college and to “maximize” money spent on education. He said lawmakers have an “obligation” to let students know if there are degrees that typically don’t lead to success in the employment market.

In 2019, almost 112,000 students earned Bright Futures Scholarships, which are funded by the Florida Lottery and totaled more than $618 million. If the new bill passes the House, it would take effect July 1.

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