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Access to Bright Futures gets a little more dim

The Senate's committee for the higher education budget just OK'd a bill that would impose tougher standards for getting the bright futures scholarship.  Only State Sen. Dan Gelber, a Democrat from Miami Beach, opposed.

Amongst other things, the proposed overhaul of the program included raising the SAT requirements by up to 80 points, reducing the time a student has to use the money and restricting funding only to classes the student needs to graduate.

"If we don't take these steps there is no way we will have the money in the more challenging years the next two years ahead," said state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, a Republican from Ormond Beach who heads the committee.

Representatives from Florida A & M University and the State College system, among others, all spoke in favor of the bill.

"We know our students and our students will be impacted,'' said Tom Furlong, interim president of St. Petersburg College and a representative of the State College system. "But the time has come for tough decisions and we support your efforts."

Gelber said he voted against the bill as a matter of principle. He said he didn't think enough money was allocated on the budget for higher education, given the number of people who are trying to earn higher degrees in light of a down economy.