Miami-Dade County

Gov. Scott says he wants to ‘permanently’ expand Bright Futures, increase loan transparency

Governor Rick Scott signs student bill at Miami-Dade College

Though he vetoed a bill that would have restored Bright Futures funding this year because of other issues, Florida’s governor says he’ll push to revisit scholarships next year.
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Though he vetoed a bill that would have restored Bright Futures funding this year because of other issues, Florida’s governor says he’ll push to revisit scholarships next year.

During a visit to Miami-Dade College on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott said he would push to “permanently” restore Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program back to 100 percent coverage of tuition and fees.

The statement comes two weeks after Scott vetoed Senate Bill 374, which would have done just that. But Scott found other provisions unsavory enough to scrap the bill completely. In his veto letter, Scott expressed disapproval with the bill’s restrictions on Florida colleges, writing that it “impedes the State College System’s mission by capping the enrollment level of baccalaureate degrees and unnecessarily increasing red tape.”

Scott told a reporter following his press conference that he would push for a permanent expansion in 2018.

“My goal is at the next Legislative session, we will put this in permanently,” Scott said. “I’ve supported our Bright Futures program since I got elected.”

Scott appeared inside a conference room at the college’s Wolfson campus in downtown Miami to sign Senate Bill 394, which will require colleges and universities to keep students up-to-date on federal loan debts. Many students now graduate with crushing loan balances that take years or more to pay off.

The bill unanimously passed the House of Representatives and the Senate. It will take effect at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

After praising Miami-Dade College’s academic achievements, Scott said his goal was to ensure students across the state graduate with as little debt as possible.

“It’s gonna create greater cost transparency,” he said. “I think when you’re going to school, you should know exactly what it costs; if you end up in debt, what’s this debt gonna cost you?”

Crossing Northeast Second Street onto campus, 19-year-old Andrew Gerlin praised the step to keep students better informed on loans.

“It piles up at the end,” said Gerlin, a Florida SouthWestern State College freshman studying at Miami-Dade College for the summer. For his first semester, he took out a $3,000 federal loan. “Hopefully I won’t have to pull any [more loans] out any time soon.”

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