Putting Education Reform To The Test

New Florida Scholarship Requirement Prompts Identity Theft Concerns

Florida Department of Education

A parent is asking Gov. Rick Scott to reconsider a new state law requiring Bright Futures recipients submit a federal financial aid application.

Why should a student need a parent to fill out a financial aid application to renew a merit-based scholarship if the student pays for his or her education?

And why should a parent put their personal information at risk if they receive no benefit from the scholarship?

That’s what Palm Beach County resident John Loeffler is asking in a letter he wrote to Gov. Rick Scott last week.

“It’s kind of crazy, it doesn’t make sense,” Loeffler said.

Loeffler’s daughter is studying engineering at the University of Florida and needs to renew her Bright Futures scholarship.

As we reported earlier this year, renewing the scholarship now requires submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The requirement was added to a 71-page bill, now law, raising Bright Futures eligibility.

In a letter last week, Loeffler asked Scott to consider issuing an executive order that would halt Bright Futures from gathering the information.

Lawmakers said they want to collect the financial information of families receiving the scholarship to determine who is receiving the scholarship. Lawmakers want to wants to disprove the public’s notion that parents are buying BMWs for their Bright Futures students with money they would have otherwise spent on college.

“We always intended for everyone to fill out the FAFSA form,” said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Daytona Beach and chairman of the Senate’s higher education budget subcommittee. “We have no data on these students at all.”

However, If the student is under the age of 24 their parents must submit their financial information.

Loeffler says his daughter is paying her own way, so why should he be involved at all?

Loeffler worries he’s risking identity theft by submitting his Social Security number and financial details on the FAFSA.

“How can you deny them something they’ve been awarded?” Loeffler asked.

“I understand they’re trying to save money…but for me to risk my finances about this when I’m not getting any financial benefit? That’s my identity.”

Scott’s office has neither responded to Loeffler’s letter, nor to StateImpact Florida’s questions. Read Loeffler’s letter below.


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