Volunteering is voluntary for high school students under new Bright Futures requirements

Florida’s popular college scholarship program will undergo a big change under a new measure signed by the governor. Ron DeSantis.

High school students will no longer be required to log hours of volunteer work to qualify for a Bright Futures scholarship, but can substitute paid work to meet merit-based scholarship requirements. DeSantis welcomed the change during a late morning press conference held at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus as a way to expand opportunities for those who may need to work while in high school.

The legislation (HB 461) was sponsored by the Republican representative. Lauren Melo. President of the Senate wilton simpson called the product change a “blue-collar” legislature.

A bright future scholarships — which cover 75% or 100% of the cost of college education — have traditionally required volunteer hours before graduating. Additionally, students are also required to identify a problem or area of ​​professional interest, develop a plan to address the topic, and reflect and report on experiences.

About 120,000 students from across the state go to college on Bright Futures scholarships.

Students who will use their work hours to meet volunteer requirements will need to obtain approval from the district school board or, in the case of private schools, administrative boards. Home-schooled children who wish to use their work hours to meet volunteer requirements must obtain permission from the Department of Education.

There is no income qualification for the Bright Futures Scholarships. Students earn scholarships based on their grade point averages and performance on standardized tests. To be eligible for Bright Futures, students must achieve certain grade point averages.

Academic Scholars is the top scholarship, covering 100% of tuition and fees at a state college or university. To qualify, students must maintain a 3.5 grade point average (GPA); have an ACT score of 29 or an SAT score of 1330; and accumulate 100 volunteer hours.

The second-tier Florida Medallion Scholars program requires 75 hours of service, as well as a GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of 25 or an SAT score of 1210.

The business school-focused Florida Gold Seal Career and Professional Education Scholarship also requires 30 volunteer hours, in addition to five credit hours of industry certification courses.

The new law does not change the academic requirements. It only allows working hours to be replaced by voluntary work.

While DeSantis said volunteerism is commendable, the governor noted that not all high school students can afford not to be paid.

“Not every student has the luxury of just being able to volunteer hours,” DeSantis said. “We have students from low-income families who have to work to support their families. They should not be denied the opportunity to qualify for a scholarship simply because their socio-economic background makes it more difficult to be able to do this type of voluntary work.

Evan Power, Chairman of the Florida Republican Party Presidents, added, “Once again, Governor DeSantis stands tall for working families in Florida. Giving young adults the opportunity for an affordable college education will benefit their families and Florida for generations to come.

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