Correction: Florida Academic Scholars bonus reduced to $187.50

Jason alerted me that the email I got from the FL department of education means $375 for the whole school year, which is two semesters. So each semester the bonus is actually reduced from $225 to $187.50. This is after being reduced from $300 to $225 in the spring of 2008, when the Medallion award was raised from 75% to 100% for community and state colleges.

I was fooled by the email, because it reminded me of this similar email from 2007 November 27:

Dear Mr. Thripp:

Effective January 1, 2008, the Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) maximum allowance for college-related expenses will be reduced from $300 to $225 for the second half of the 2007-08 academic year, prorated by term and hours.

As a result of the state budget shortfall for the 2007-08 fiscal year, many academic year program budgets were reduced during the Special Legislative Session 2007C. Senate Bill 10C was signed into law which amended the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program by reducing the 2007-08 FAS college-related expense allowance and providing for future academic years amounts of the FAS allowance to be specified annually in the General Appropriations Act.

If you have further questions, please contact the Bright Futures office toll-free at 1-888-827-2004.

Sincerely,
Office of Student Financial Assistance

And this is the email from 2008 September 12:

Dear Mr. Thripp:

The 2008-09 Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) college-related expense allowance that is specified annually by the Florida Legislature in the General Appropriations Act will be $375 for the 2008-09 academic year, prorated by terms and hours.

If you have further questions, please contact the Bright Futures office toll-free at 1-888-827-2004.

Sincerely,
Office of Student Financial Assistance

Obviously it should be worded more clearly. They got it right on the BrightFutures website, where it says:

The annual college related expense allowance for Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) will be $375 to be divided equally between terms.

Why couldn’t they put that in big red letters in the email? Perhaps it’s because they wanted to be misleading.

The BrightFutures Academic Scholars award was supposed to pay for everything. That was the original intention, hence the $300 allowance. Books are not getting cheaper. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my books are awfully expensive this semester (the total came to $348). The state legislature has simply decided that we should be able to pay a portion of our books ourselves. For me, that portion is $160.50.

Perhaps if the legislature didn’t spend so much money giving 100% funding to the students who scored lowly on the ACT / SAT, they’d have more funds to reward the students who scored highly. I don’t know about you, but it was really important for me to get 28 of 36 on my ACT test for the 100% funding and $300 / semester bonus. My family is neither rich nor college-educated. I barely got in with a composite score of 28, which is in the top 8%. The Medallion award requires 20 of 36, which is merely in the top 53%.

I also did 75 hours of community service at the local library to earn my higher award. But now, it’s pretty much the same as the lower award, plus $187.50 per semester. If you couldn’t get 28 of 36, it’s great, but if you struggled to make it or even re-took the ACT to get 28 for the Academic Scholars award, it doesn’t feel so good.

The Florida BrightFutures scholarship program rewards mediocrity while ignoring academic excellence.

3 thoughts on “Correction: Florida Academic Scholars bonus reduced to $187.50

  1. I was doing some research on the Bright Futures Book allowance and I came across you’re article. I agree with you 100%! I am currently at UF and I had some crazy financial issues last semester… I went through my stuff to calculate where all of my money went and it seems that I spent over $500 in books! Bright Futures is supposed to cover tuition/books/fees… but it’s not doing it’s job! Especially since the school book store has books ranging from prices of $15 to $200 each! Now I have to do extensive research online to find cheaper used books… why? Because that is what my $187.50 is forcing me to do.
    I worked incredibly hard to study and prepare myself for college. I took the ACT and got 25 the first time and took a WHOLE BUNCH of practice tests and got a 28 the second time. Yey Bright Futures for me! Yeah…… only for TUITION!! I have plenty of friends who cheated their way through highschool and they now have the benefit of 100% bright futures at their community college? I have NO problem with that BUT because it effects the amount of money I get… it is a bit depressing.
    My parents didn’t go to college. We don’t have a high income. I wouldn’t have been able to afford college if it hadn’t been for grants & scholarships. I took a whole bunch of crazy AP, IB and dual enrollment classes so that I could get money to go to school and this is what they repay me with!
    I could be overreacting…. but think about it… they keep reducing it! It probably will get lower and lower and lower….. that’s what I’m freaking out about because I just started college! I still have a good 3-6 years to go in my studies…

    • plz excuse any grammatical or spelling errors (for example…”…because it AFFECTS not effects….”…) blah.

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