Last year, she remembers the state increasing the number of volunteer hours required to be considered eligible for Bright Futures.
What also went up were the minimum SAT and ACT test scores required, a step increase
New high school graduates would have to score at least 1170 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average for the Medallion scholarship, the most popular of the three Bright Futures scholarships open to students.
It's a jump of 150 points for the SAT test and four points for the ACT from last year.
The Florida Academic Scholars, the most academically rigorous, requires a 1,290 minimum on the SAT and 29 for the ACT. A third scholarship is available for those going into vocational courses.
"Twenty-six is a fairly rigorous score," she said. The school is advising students to start testing for their SATs or ACTs in their junior year or sooner if they are taking advanced classes, she said.
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The new state rules may slash the number of
"Almost all freshmen at the
Almost all freshmen entering historically black
Black and Hispanic students would be the hardest hit, but students from families whose incomes are too high to qualify for federal Pell Grants also will have a tough time,
"The largest number of students affected are those with the highest financial need," he said.
At its peak, the program provided college scholarships to one in three high school graduates, according to
"Estimates now show that only one in eight high school graduates will benefit from the program this school year once significant increases to test score requirements are enforced. This translates to approximately 20,000 less graduating seniors qualifying for Bright Futures compared to just a year ago," the group maintains.
It called for the state to roll back the eligibility criteria to last year's levels, but no changes have been enacted so far in this year's legislative session.
"The impact of these cuts to Bright Futures comes at a time when college affordability in our state is a hot-button issue," the group adds.
"Bright Futures is a merit-based scholarship program. Because of that, we are continually refining how 'merit' is defined based on how much the state can afford to award," she said.
"Suggestions that Bright Futures is intentionally skewed against minorities are misinformed. It is simply based on the merit of students' academic performance. That said, need-based aid is also funded at substantial levels by the state, and gets a boost in this year's proposed budget," Grimsley added.
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Academic scholars get
Maldonado said college would have been tougher for her if she had not received the scholarship. Her cousin,
Students these days have to be "super low middle class to be able to get any (financial) help," he said of need-based financial aid programs.
"They needed to raise the requirements," she said.
She said by upping the eligibility rules, students will become more disciplined about their academics and have more incentive to continue with higher education after obtaining a two-year degree.
She's worked hard to keep good grades, she said, and instilled the importance of hard work in her kids when they were little.
"I see so many students get their Bright Futures," she said. "And they bomb out because they can't handle the workload (in college)."
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