Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 461 to expand eligibility requirements for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program to include paid work experience as a substitute for service hours. This expansion will allow students who work after school jobs to apply their paid work contributions to their communities to substitute service hour requirements. The legislation allows students the opportunity to receive Bright Futures Scholarships who might not otherwise have been able to meet the requirements for a scholarship.
"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."
"Bright Futures has provided a pathway to success for nearly one million students," said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. "With today's changes to Bright Futures eligibility requirements, no student will be forced to choose between supporting their family and meeting the volunteer hours necessary to earn a scholarship. I'm proud to join Governor DeSantis today as we expand access to postsecondary education for all students."
"I am so grateful for the Governor's support for HB 461," said Senator Travis Hutson. "Children across Florida should have every opportunity to graduate and go to college and this bill expands those opportunities. Some kids do not have the luxury to volunteer and instead need to provide for their families. This bill allows them to help their parents while still pursuing their dreams for a higher education."
"This important legislation ensures Florida's youth have access to quality higher education at an affordable cost," said Representative Lauren Melo. "By improving the existing opportunities available, this bill secures Florida's greatest legacy, its children, and ensures they are set up on the path to their brightest future regardless of economic background. I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his unwavering support of Florida's students."
The bill modifies the eligibility requirements for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program to include an option for students to use paid work hours to qualify for the scholarship. Paid work hours must meet the requirements for volunteer hours and there must be documentation of the hours.
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.