TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With little discussion, a legislative panel Thursday approved adding $25.3 million to the Bright Futures scholarship program because of higher-than-expected student participation.
The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of House and Senate leaders and can make mid-year budget adjustments, signed off on the additional money. “I think it’s a positive that the program has received such overwhelming support from the public and so many people are participating,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said after the vote.
Lawmakers in recent years have increased college and university financial-aid programs, including expanding top-level Bright Futures awards to cover full tuition and fees and to pay for some textbooks.
The Legislature provided nearly $520 million in this year’s budget for the Bright Futures program, but a November estimate by state analysts showed an increase in qualifying students could push the cost to about $545 million.
As a result, the state Department of Education requested an additional $25.3 million for the program, which is funded through what is known as the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. That trust fund receives money from the Florida Lottery.