A picture of the Florida Capital Building.

Earlier in March, the Florida State Senate passed a bill, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, that called for $162 million in state funding to be allocated to scholarships for students in need of financial aid. The bill would reinstate funding for Bright Futures Scholars and even ramp up it up over the summer according to a Florida State Senate press release.

The $162 million plan—Senate Bill 2—aims to make the state’s colleges and universities more competitive. It will increase National Merit Scholar benefits by opening it up to out-of-state applicants, and it will create a separate scholarship program for migrant workers and their kids.

The changes to the Bright Futures scholarship would impact around 45,000 students for the 2017-18 school year. Despite the bill, the qualifying standards and eligibility criteria would not change which did not make Democrats happy. They raised concerns over the boost in merit-based programs, saying it will prevent low-income students from getting the aid they need.

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Another part of the bill would require schools to implement block-tuition rates by fall 2018. Yet this isn’t without controversy. While it would save full-time students thousands of dollars in extra classes without additional expense, universities complain that it would cost them millions each year.

All debate aside, the actions taken in Florida are a byproduct of the student loan issue overall. Currently, student loan debt exceeds $1.4 trillion, and the tally shows few signs of reversing this trend. Many state politicians are experiencing pressure to offer up a solution, one that would benefit their in-state college students.

Image Copyright © Artie White