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Bright Futures May Extend To Summer Courses

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Students in Florida may soon stop worrying about paying for summer college tuition without financial aid.

Governor Rick Scott proposed a $65 million plan that would reduce the costs of attending college.

On Thursday, his office announced his hopes to repeal sales taxes on textbooks and extend Florida Bright Futures scholarships to cover summer courses.

Fewer than 26,000 students at the University of Florida received Florida Bright Future benefits between 2013 and 2014. Students at UF, as well as other universities within the state, are required to complete at least 9 credits during a summer term in order to graduate.

Katie Giebler, a freshman at UF studying industrial engineering, said she would have originally been forced to pay out-of-pocket if she decided to complete this requirement at UF.

“I was planning on going back home and going to a community college, but since Bright Futures will likely be able to help me stay at UF to save money, I think a lot of other students would be encouraged to take summer sessions, pretty much every year,” she said.

Scott’s plan to get rid of sales taxes on textbooks could save students who take at least 15 credits a semester at least $60 per semester, but this plan doesn’t come without a cost.

The state would have to find other ways of coming up with just over $41 million if they decide to go through with the tax cuts. Scott has pledged more than $23 million for this change, but some are skeptical of how useful this would be.

A study by the Board of Governors says more money might be necessary to cover the full cost of these summer courses for Bright Future students at the state’s 12 universities, meaning some schools may be forced to choose who gets benefits, or choose what courses will be covered.

Scott’s office also said his final budget will be released this week with even more tax cuts. These proposals have still not been approved by Legislators, but could start seeing some results when the annual session begins in March.

“It’s good to see a move toward actually supporting education rather than cutting like Rick Scott has done in the the past,” said Giebler.

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