Florida Levels the Playing Field with Innovative Approach to Bright Futures’ Volunteer Requirements
- BY FGA
NAPLES, FL— Today in Florida, House Bill 461 passed in the state legislature, amending the state’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program student service requirements to allow paid work hours to satisfy the award’s volunteer service hours component.
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) applauds this effort, recognizing employed students as valuable contributors to the Florida economy and their individual communities.
H.B. 461 authorizes students’ service requirements for the scholarships to be paid rather than only volunteer–maintaining the original intent of the program while ensuring every Florida high school student has an equal opportunity to earn financial aid. Currently, to qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship, a student must earn minimum GPA, SAT, and ACT scores and complete up to 100 volunteer service hours.
“H.B. 461 would level the playing field for some of the hardest-working students who need this program the most—the kids who go to school and report to their jobs after the bell rings; high school students from all walks of life,” said Rep. Lauren Melo, the bill sponsor. “Not everyone has the privilege of volunteering in lieu of earning a paycheck. This bill allows young adults who have to work the opportunity to obtain scholarship funds for their secondary education.”
Like volunteering, the benefits of a job are many. A job empowers students to explore new skills and concepts, discover potential career paths, develop time management, and learn responsibility. The Bright Futures Scholarship Program has helped more than 725,000 of Florida’s brightest students achieve a postsecondary education—shaping and keeping the next generation in Florida.
“The Bright Futures Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that students across the state work hard to achieve, and I believe working a job has a great deal of merit,” said Rep. Amber Mariano, Chair of the Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee. “This program has given financial aid to numerous Florida graduates, and we’d like to further extend that opportunity to low-income students who simply can’t afford to work for free.”
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream. To learn more, visit TheFGA.org.