Paid employment can be substituted for volunteer hours to qualify for Bright Futures scholarships, under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis said the measure (HB 461) will help students who have to work and are unable to meet volunteer-hour requirements.
“So, you no longer have to decide between working a job to support your family or qualifying for opportunities in the future. You’re going to be able to do both,” DeSantis said Monday during an event at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City Campus in Tampa.
The measure was approved unanimously by the House and in a 35-3 vote by the Senate during the legislative session that ended in March.
A House staff analysis didn’t put a price tag on the bill, saying that while more students might qualify for Bright Futures, the direct fiscal impact to the state is “indeterminate.”
“Florida students should not lose the opportunity to receive a Bright Futures Scholarship because they have to work to help their families make ends meet,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “After-school jobs teach our students valuable life lessons, much like community service hours do. I am glad to sign this bill and will continue to make sure higher education remains affordable in Florida.”
“When our administration took office, we vowed to invest and prioritize our state’s education and continue to open the doors to success for students of all backgrounds,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “Signing House Bill 461 is yet another testament of our administration’s continued commitment to putting students and families first. Florida is not only the free state, but it is also the education state.”
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, primarily funded by the Florida Lottery, was established in 1997 to assist students with tuition costs when pursuing a postsecondary degree.
During the 2021-2022 school year, over 120,000 Florida students received Bright Futures Scholarships.