As Florida university and college students return to campus this month, many will benefit from a major expansion of need-based financial aid.
Florida's main program aimed at those with financial need, known as “student assistance grants,” will expand to cover almost 235 thousand people this year, nearly doubling from last year. The students will receive an average grant of more than 11 hundred dollars, which does not have to be repaid.
The Legislature also expanded the “Florida Resident Access Grant” program, which will provide 33 hundred dollars per year to 37 thousand students attending private colleges and universities in Florida.
The additional money means students will finish school more quickly, according to Ed Moore, president of the Independent Colleges and University of Florida.
“Every extra dollar that we can put in that student’s bank account, if you will, enables them to continue pursuing their degree and get done on time. If they get done on time, they are in the workforce faster,” said Moore.
Projections also show more than 46 thousand university and college students who qualify as “academic scholars” under Florida's Bright Futures program will have all of their tuition and fees covered this year. Last year’s top Bright Futures scholarship only covered about half of tuition and fees, which average about 215 dollars per credit hour at the 12 state universities.
“Students leave school for a very small amount of money, and because they run out of money. They can’t pay their electric bill, can’t pay their car payment, can’t pay their rent. So, they leave school and go back to work,” said Moore.