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Health News Florida
In this statewide project, journalists explore the high costs of the pandemic for children and young adults. The project is supported in part by the Hammer Family Charitable Foundation and the Education Writers Association.

Class of COVID-19: The Uncertain Future Of Bright Futures

Rep. Rene Plasencia, second from right, participates in an appropriations committee meeting earlier this year. A former teacher and coach, Plasencia chairs the higher education budget committee in the House.
Rep. Rene Plasencia, second from right, participates in an appropriations committee meeting earlier this year. A former teacher and coach, Plasencia chairs the higher education budget committee in the House.

When lawmakers slashed Florida's Bright Futures scholarship amounts during past difficult budget cycles, Black and Latino students lost out the most.

The Florida Senate has retreated from its controversial plan to punish college students who choose majors that "do not lead directly to employment" by reducing their scholarship amounts under the state-funded Bright Futures program.

But as the Legislature grapples with a budget deficit brought on by COVID-19, Bright Futures is still in danger of cuts, after being partially restored only a few years ago.

When lawmakers have slashed Bright Futures during past difficult budget cycles, Black and Latino students lost out the most. Some Democratic lawmakers are trying to keep that from happening this time — especially since students of color have been more affected by the health and economic crises of the pandemic.

"We need to look for ways, through policy, to not only make sure that students of color aren't once again absorbing the lion's share of the negative consequences of COVID, but also that we are incentivizing them to finish the degrees that they've already started," said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando.

Find the rest of the story here.

This story is part of the Florida Public Media series, "Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students." Find the whole project at classofcovid.org.

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