In a country where minority students are already disproportionately shut out of higher education, is saving a few government dollars really worth endangering opportunities for a generally disadvantaged population? Florida seems to think it is. In an effort to save money, the Florida state legislature is considering raising SAT score requirements for scholarship money so that fewer students qualify. Since minority students on average don’t perform as well on standardized tests as white students, the consequences of this change will be that half of currently eligible Black students will no longer qualify for scholarship funds. If you’re a Florida resident, click here to find your state senator’s contact information and tell them how you feel about this legislation. – NewsOne Staff
From the Independent Florida Alligator:
A bill going through the Florida state Legislature amending Bright Futures scholarship requirements may disproportionately cut opportunities for minority students.
Text continues after gallery …
In 1997 Bright Futures cost $70 million, last year it cost $429 million. And in an effort to keep the program solvent, the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Committee passed Senate Bill 1344 in a Friday vote of 4-1.
The legislation would raise scholarship requirements for SAT scores.
By 2014, the requirements would increase 20 points to 1290 for the Academic Scholar award.
The legislation would add 80 points to the 1050 required for the Medallion Scholar award.
The higher score requirements would save the state an estimated $8 million in 2013 and $100 million by 2018, but 30 percent fewer students would qualify for scholarships, according to the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government.
The bill would have the largest effect on minority students.
Up to about 49 percent of African American students and 37 percent of Hispanic students who now qualify for Bright Futures would not qualify for the scholarship award in 2014 based on current test scores.
Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber, of Miami Gardens, was the only senator to vote against the bill.
“The economy has created a huge increase of Floridians who want higher education,” Gelber said. “I don’t think they should be stiff aimed.”