Do You Know How Current Legislation Will Affect your Child?
I will continue the Redefining College Readiness: Part 3, next week.
As students and parents preparing for college is a stressful and confusing process. There is always concern about the cost of attendance and finding programs that best meet your student’s needs. According to the Florida College Access Network (www.floridacollegeaccess.org), a nonpartisan organization that strives to expand knowledge of research, data, policies and practices that impact postsecondary access and attainment in Florida, there are several legislative decisions that parents and students should pay close to attention in the coming year that can affect where your student can earn their desired career and how they are going to pay for it.
The article can be found here for more information, but here is a shortened list of current legislation parents and students should be aware of.
1. Tuition- Tuition has remained relatively steady these last four year. There is discussion and commitment to reform state financial aid and tuition policies.
2. Bright Futures- The Florida Academic Scholars (FAS), the top tier of the Bright Futures scholarship, is looking atreceiving inceased funding for those who qualify with a 29 ACT/ 1290 SAT and a 3.5 weighted gpa with 100% tuition and fees, and a $300 textbook allowance, comparatively the current level of about $3,000 annuallyor $103 per credit.
3. Summer Bright Futures- Along with increasing funding for FAS, the legislation is also looking at providing Bright Futures funding for summer sessions as well as fall and spring.
4. First Generation Matching Grant Programs- A Senate bill is seeking to increase the amount of grant money available for eligible low-income, first-generation students. The current First Generation Grant, that provides additional grant money for qualifying students, is not sufficient for current needs and students are going unfunded.
5. Block Tuition- Currently, students in the Florida public university system pay per credit basis, yet receive the same financial aid award. To save money, many are taking fewer credits per semester, thus taking longer to graduate. A current bill is asking the public universities to move to a block, or one-price system, whether a student takes 12, 15, or 18 credit hours. The hope is for students to graduate sooner, but opponents fear students may see this as a tuition increase. If this legislation is passed, it will go into affect fall 2018.
6. Florida State College System- Florida has 28 state colleges or “community colleges”, making it an easy and affordable choice for many college-bound high school students and adults (see my infographic on 10 Reasons to Attend a Florida State College). These schools offer a variety of programs such as College Credit Certificates, Associates of Science or Arts degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees in high need areas such as nursing, education, and computer science. Several state colleges have made Bachelor’s degrees as low as $10,000 for attainment, a challenge from Governor Rick Scott. However, legislation is currently trying to push all bachelor’s degree programs to the Florida State University System (SUS) and away from the state colleges.
a. This is one legislation bill that we should all be strongly against. We should be extending these opportunities to be able to provide ALL families a reasonably priced, high quality education to meet their post-secondary needs. This piece of legislation would seriously set back many Florida students as it would limit educational opportunities for many across the state.
7. 2+2 Pathways- Many Florida state colleges and state universities have agreements that allow students to easily transfer from one school to another, providing additional support to these students, easy transfer of credits, and priority application and acceptances. This piece of legislation seeks to require every state college to create these pathways with a state university.
a. While I applaud making it easier for students to transfer to larger universities that have a larger assortment of majors and minors, it is clear that this legislation is designed to placate the issues in #6. There should be greater accessibility efforts across the board at both state colleges and universities. Different school types, such as private vs. public, 2 year versus 4 year, technical/ certification vs. degrees, should be available to meet as many student needs as possible.
As you begin your college process, these are some legislative issues that have a direct impact on your family. For more information, read the original article that provides links to all the legislation. If you feel passionately about one of them, please email your representative. We should work together to provide a variety of college opportunities that is reasonably priced and accessible for all.