Scholarship program raises standards

Graham Hill, Editor-in-Chief

The Bright Futures program is raising the SAT scores needed to qualify for benefits. The program’s Florida Academic and the Florida Medallion scholarships cover all college tuition and 75 percent of college tuition, respectively, as well as associated costs.

Senate Bill 190 was passed by state legislature in May and approved over the summer, which means students taking the SAT from now on will have more difficulty in meeting the qualifications for the Bright Futures scholarships. 

For the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS), which covers the entirety of tuition and some associated fees, a 1330 will be required, instead of the previous 1290. The Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS), which covers 75 percent of tuition, is similarly raising its standards from 1170 to 1200.  

“I don’t see how raising the SAT score does anything; the people who need it the most are usually disadvantaged families who don’t have the resources to get tutoring or help to prepare for the test,” sophomore Abby Larkin said. “It shouldn’t be as dependent on the scores and more on your morals and work ethic.” 

Worries that the change would disproportionately affect lower-income families were echoed by other students, though the final bill passed both houses of the legislature without a single dissenting vote. The bill’s stated purpose was to better align the SAT and ACT score for percentile purposes. 

“Honestly, I don’t like the change in SAT scores because I think it’s too hard and it’s even harder for the kids who can’t buy tutors and SAT prep because they’re the students who are struggling to afford the tuition and get into colleges,” freshman Hyatt Criser said. “It’s a bigger change than they say on the sheets.” 

A recent MarketWatch article detailed the expenses involved in SAT prep and tutoring, with some companies and tutors charging thousands of dollars for a handful of sessions. College Board, the company that runs the SAT, now offers free resources like Khan Academy amidst the criticism of the perceived financial barriers in success on the tests.  

“I’m definitely going to get tutoring for it because, first, I want a good SAT score, but to qualify I need one,” junior Sloan Frick said. “The whole reason I may go to a college in Florida is because of Bright Futures.” 

According to college counselor Lauren Moseley, 158 Plant students last year qualified for the FAS, and 129 for the FMS. Across the school district, the numbers were 1514 and 1394. The changes to score requirements will not affect the class of 2020. 

“I’m not sure that it’s going to affect necessarily whether or not people go to college,” Moseley said. “Maybe it will impact where… maybe if it gets harder to get the Bright Futures scholarship, we could see an increase in students going out of state.”