First, it was “Bright Futures.” Next, it could be “Sunshine.”
State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Broward County Democrat, is blame to authorize a new taxpayer-funded admission that would advice low-income Floridians acquire certificates and associate’s degrees.
The alleged “Sunshine Scholarship” would pay students’ actual charge antithesis at barter schools and association colleges afterwards they beforehand added federal and accompaniment banking aid.
However, if the Republican-led Legislature approves House Bill 181, it’s acceptable the scholarship would account far beneath acceptance than Jones had initially hoped.
Listen actuality to the chat amid WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman and Rep. Shevrin Jones about his proposal.
The angle — which Jones calls “a assignment in progress” — was aboriginal advised to accomplish association academy chargeless to a advanced swath of students, including those with common incomes. But, already, the bill has been scaled bottomward significantly.
Jones — a above accessible academy abecedary who represents West Park and whose ancestor is ambassador of that burghal — aboriginal pitched a scholarship for acceptance whose anniversary domiciliary assets was $125,000 or less. Further, the awards would accept accurate their following of associate’s or bachelor’s degrees at Florida Academy System institutions.
But the House’s post-secondary apprenticeship subcommittee replaced the bill with a new adaptation afore casual it absolutely on Dec. 6. The new accent offers the banking aid to acceptance with a abundant lower assets beginning of $50,000 or less, accustomed that the average anniversary domiciliary assets in Florida was $48,900 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And as now written, the accolade would awning alone the workforce training programs and two-year degrees, not four-year programs.
Jones said House administration directed changes to the bill, blurred the accommodation beginning so the scholarships wouldn’t bulk the accompaniment as much. The anniversary allotment action is a angry antagonism for resources, and the priorities of aldermanic leaders booty precedent, as do the desires of the governor, to a bottom extent.
In an analysis, aldermanic agents did not accredit a specific dollar bulk to how abundant Jones’ bill would cost because it’s difficult to adumbrate how abounding acceptance would accept it. Also, aback the scholarship is advised to arch the gap larboard by added banking aid programs, the bulk of anniversary accolade would alter based on an alone student’s accommodation for added federal and accompaniment grants.
It charge bright two added House committees — area it’s acceptable to be adapted added — afore it could be advised on the House attic aboriginal this year. There are two agnate bills in the Senate, both filed by South Florida Democrats — Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens; and Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, of Miami, who is active for Congress. Jones said he and the senators plan to accommodate the differences in their bills and eventually beforehand identical versions.
Jones said his achievement is to canyon the added bound scholarship during this aldermanic affair and aggrandize accommodation later.
WLRN talked with Jones about the capacity of his proposal. Here’s an extract of the conversation:
WLRN: What does your bill do?
JONES: So acceptance can go to a two-year academy or association college, and afterwards they’ve activated for Pell grants, their FAFSA and any added educational assistance, the accompaniment will appear in and pay the gap — or the aftermost dollar. … The account to the accompaniment of Florida is, if we pay for the acceptance to go to a college, the alone affair they accept to pay aback to us is their time. So the bulk of time that they’ve acclimated the scholarship they pay us aback by alive in the accompaniment for the bulk of time that they accustomed it. If they leave, they accept to pay the accommodation aback with interest.
So your bill would awning abounding charge and fees for acceptance in abstruse programs or enrolled in association colleges. Why not accommodate accessible universities as well?
You know, that’s a acceptable question. Looking at the account year — according to the governor’s budget, and the apostle and the president’s budget, they are aggravating to accumulate the budgetary bottomward on it.
And back you say, “keep the budgetary down,” you mean, accomplish it so it’s not acutely big-ticket for the state?
That’s correct. The aboriginal affair that I’m activity to do is alter my bill in the aing lath stop to get a abstraction done in the aboriginal two years so we can attending at how abounding acceptance use the scholarship [and] … the demographic of the acceptance that use it. From there, let’s aggrandize it.
So as you mentioned, the scholarship is what’s alleged a “last dollar” scholarship. That agency Bright Futures, federal Pell Grants and added banking aid would be activated first. So if a apprentice has the lower akin of Bright Futures, which, appropriate now, doesn’t awning abounding charge and fees, that scholarship would accomplish up the difference.
Senate Admiral Joe Negron’s above antecedence has been to restore the top akin of Bright Futures to abounding charge and fees. But some assembly accept said that could leave out abounding low-income students. Did that agency into your cerebration here?
It did. And I anticipate that’s a lot of people’s concern. And surprisingly, I was so afraid back I started this bill because of what the Senate admiral was doing. I anticipation we were activity to end up clashing. But anybody seems to accept jumped on lath with the Sunshine Scholarship because they accept the charge that we accept aural the accompaniment of Florida to absorb acceptable talent.
But Florida has a albatross in that we charge to alpha addition out means to accomplish it affordable to alive here. While we are pumping individuals into the workforce, we charge to do things like what they’re accomplishing in Broward with the agents and attending at some affordable apartment options and some means area bodies can survive here.
So the bill includes a beginning — a domiciliary assets beginning — of $50,000. Why that amount?
We do accept that there are households who accept a academy income, but they are still active in poverty. I would adulation for the accompaniment of Florida to say, “Hey, if you’re activity to a two-year college, everybody qualifies.” But I’m acquisitive we can get that abstraction done in the aboriginal two years.
What aggressive you to adduce this bill?
As an educator, as addition who was aloft in a domiciliary of educators, my parents — that was the mantra of our household: education. And a lot of individuals, they appetite to breach the generational abjection in their households, but they can’t allow it. Even if I go to college, or I admiration to go to college, and I accept some blazon of aid, there’s consistently a gap that hinders individuals from going. I don’t affliction if it’s $300. Individuals can’t pay it because that $300 is what takes affliction of their family.
So the accompaniment of Florida — if we can absolutely appearance that we absolutely affliction and we are absolutely the Sunshine State, let’s flash a tad bit of ablaze and advice on these individuals to accord them a allowance hand, a duke up.
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