JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It'll be harder for Florida students to qualify for the state's Bright Futures scholarship.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed new standards into law June 18 that will make it tougher to qualify for the lottery-funded program. 2021 high school graduates will feel the full effects of these changes, potentially making thousands of kids ineligible.
“I realized my experience was getting more difficult than the experience they were having,” University of Florida student Adam Mallenbogen said.
Students who already earn the Bright Futures Scholarship are speaking for the next generation.
"It's a straight-up arms race and a lot of [incoming students] are going to be focused on getting the right grade rather than fundamentally learning," University of Florida graduate Noel Thomas said.
The law signed by Governor DeSantis says SAT scores for top tier students eligible for money would rise from 1290 to 1330, which would still cover 100-percent of tuition and fees.
"Medallion" or second tier scores jump from 1170 to 120, which will cover 75-percent of tuition.
The awards are based on high school grade-point averages and community service hours, but those standards will continue to change too based on the language of the law. Florida requirements would reflect national SAT scores.
The On Your Side team reached out to several public universities to see how these changes would affect them.
The University of Central Florida says nearly one-third of its freshman class would not have qualified for any scholarship if the new standards applied.
The University of North Florida needed to crunch the numbers on how many students this could impact and declined to comment.
Steve Orlando, of the University of Florida, does not expect much of an impact as their average scores already exceed the minimums. He said getting into the school will take more than just a few numbers.
“We’re also looking at what does the student bring to the table," Orlando said. "What kind of experiences in life do they have? What kind of skill sets do they have, so really it’s a much broader picture.”
This is not the first time lawmakers have upped standards for the scholarship either. It last happened in 2014, and the change saved the state tens of millions of dollars according to state reports.