Students rally for a bright future

Looking to give students a platform to voice their concerns, Student Government held a meeting where, for a couple of hours on Tuesday, students sat down with SG senators to get involved in dialogues to improve certain issues on campus, such as scholarship programs.

SG senators raised awareness about Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid scholarship programs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in that time, about 300 students signed petitions to save both scholarship programs from the chopping blocks of the state legislature, according to SG senator Brandon Faza.

Ryan Caruso, SG senate president, said BullSit allows SG senators to sit and talk to students so they can know the issues and improve the campus.

” (Monday’s) BullSit was to keep awareness alive. The scholarship program was on the chopping block; legislators wanted to end Bright Futures,” Caruso said.

Caruso said the legislature has been considering cutting funding for Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid for quite some time.

Some Florida legislators want to either eliminate the funding for the scholarships programs or raise the academic standards so fewer students are eligible for the award money, Caruso said.

Another option the legislature was considering, Caruso said, was to raise tuition for Florida schools, so tuition prices are equivalent to nationwide costs, and so that Bright Futures is eventually eliminated from higher education allowing scholarships to pay the majority of students’ tuitions.

Established in 1997, the Bright Futures Program uses state lottery revenue to award college scholarships to Florida high school graduates who meet certain academic standards. About 41,000 students received the scholarship in its first year in 1998. More than 98,000 received it in the 2001-02 school year.

Bright Futures pays 100 percent tuition at state universities for high school graduates with a score of 1270 on the SAT or 28 on the ACT and 75 hours of community service in addition to a 3.5 grade point average. The program pays 75 percent of college tuition for students with a 970 SAT score or a 20 ACT score and a 3.0 GPA.

According to the Palm Beach Post, 35,000 Florida high school graduates didn’t receive the scholarship this fall because of budget constraints.

In terms of informing students, Faza stressed the importance of SG and their involvement on issues affecting USF students.

“We won last year — we got Bright Futures off the chopping block — but we’re fighting an ongoing battle with legislators,” Faza said. “Students need to know that their scholarship money is being threatened.”

A large number of students at USF are on the Bright Futures Scholarship Program, according to Faza.

” (SG) wants to save Bright Futures not only for current USF students, but for generations of students to come,” Faza said.

Freshman Nicole Murphy said she is reliant upon her Bright Futures Scholarship, and does not want it taken away.

“I have a 75 percent tuition scholarship from Bright Futures,” she said. “Without (the scholarship), I would have to juggle working and school. That would be difficult. Plus, it saves my mom money.”