JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Students from the class of 2012 are finding out that while the cost of college is going up, funding from the state's Bright Futures program is going down.
And now those who have earned the Bright Futures Gold Seal scholarship are finding the rules have changed.
"For the students it impacts, it is a huge impact," said Anissa Agne.
Agne is director of financial aid at the University of North Florida. She said in April, to save money, the legislature changed the eligibility requirements for the Gold Seal Vocational scholarship.
As a result of that change, this fall, students will no longer be able to could use the Gold Seal scholarship at four-year universities like UNF.
"They should have been notified back in April," said Agne, "but even that it is a change that is dramatic for parents."
John McCall, a concerned parent, has experienced the change.
"This is huge. This means untold burden to parents sending kids off to college this fall," said McCall via email.
McCall said there was no warning.
"Now students must attend a two-year college or vocational school or completely forfeit the scholarship they worked for," he said.
UNF receives about 20 students a year on Gold Seal scholarships. This year, that number will be zero. But Agne said returning students who upgraded their Gold Seal scholarship to a Medallion scholarship will be okay.
"The returning students who have already been able to use their Bright Futures at the four-year institution will be able to do so," said Agne, "until their eligibility changes."
The impact is on the freshman class. What can parents do?
"I would recommend they talk with their high schools or the office of financial assistance to see if their scholars are eligible for the Medallion," said Agne.
The state's program offers scholarships on several levels; Academic Scholarship, Medallion Scholarship and the Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship. The others have seen a reduction in awards, but the eligibility rules are unchanged.
First Coast News