Sunday, April 22, 2018
Education

Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

A bill that would permanently expand state financial aid for tens of thousands of Florida college students faces a key vote today in the state Senate.

The "Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018," also known as Senate Bill 4, recently sailed through three committees without a single "no" vote and is expected to pass on the Senate floor. It is a high priority for Senate President Joe Negron and was introduced by Sen. Bill Galvano, likely Negron’s successor as president after the 2018 election.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Higher education reforms — including Bright Futures — remain top Senate priority

The measure still would have to be approved by the House, where it is scheduled to be heard by three committees.

It would expand the Bright Futures Scholarship Program by awarding top-tier students, known as "Academic Scholars," full tuition and most fees at a public college or university in Florida, plus $300 every semester for textbooks. It also would boost the award to the second tier of students, the Florida Medallion Scholars, to cover 75 percent of tuition plus most fees. Students in both tiers would be able to use the money for summer classes.

Bright Futures recipients who attend private colleges in the state receive a comparable amount based on a formula.

The increases, which affect about 100,000 students, would officially restore the awards to where they were before the effects of the recession prompted cutbacks in 2009. They were put in place during last year’s legislative session to cover students for the 2017-18 academic year, but that was a one-year-only addition to the state budget. The new legislation makes the higher awards permanent, giving Florida families better information as they make long-term financial plans for college.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Questions about equity persist as a proposed boost in Bright Futures aims to help top grads

In addition to bolstering Bright Futures, SB 4 would expand aid for other student groups, including out-of-state National Merit Finalists, students who are the first in their families to attend college, and farm workers and their children.

The measure also includes other provisions to bolster higher education, including establishment of a program to help state universities recruit top-flight faculty and adopting a four-year graduation rate instead of the current six-year rate to measure success.

Contact Thomas C. Tobin at tobin@tampabay.com Follow @ThomasCTobin.

Comments
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Published: 04/20/18
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Published: 04/20/18
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Published: 04/20/18
Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Every time I see an algebraic formula, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Landreth and Mrs. McBee flash through my mind.If you say history, I say Mr. Groot and Mrs. Melton. If you say civics, I say Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Hunt.I type using the "home keys" because Mrs....
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18
Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

LARGO — Starting soon, Pinellas County public schools could be using a nationwide violence prevention program founded by families of those killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.The nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise, with ...
Published: 04/19/18

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teacher aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer p...
Published: 04/18/18