Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bright Futures Recipients May Have To Stay In Florida After Graduation


Rep. Jimmie Smith wants Bright Futures recipients to stay in Florida after graduation.

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would force most Bright Futures recipients to stay in Florida after graduation or pay back the scholarship money.

Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, wants the bill to serve as an incentive to keep Florida’s top graduates in the state.

House Bill 35 says a graduate must stay and work in Florida six months for every semester the scholarship was used.

The Florida Department of Education would be tasked with figuring out how to get the money back from graduates who take jobs out-of-state.

Graduates must show proof of residency and employment each year by submitting a form to FDOE.

The new restrictions would take effect during the 2014-15 school year, when Florida’s unemployment rate is forecast to still be above 8 percent.

Does this mean students will effectively be punished for not being able to find work in their chosen field in Florida? That will likely be part of the debate if the bill is taken up by any committees.

Members of the military on active duty would be exempt from the requirement.

Bob Sanchez of the James Madison Institute, a public policy research group, recently told StateImpact Florida that one of the reasons Florida created the Bright Futures program “was to avoid the brain drain where the smart kids go off to Ivy League schools or to the University of Virginia or some other school.”

“It was to help keep them in Florida on the theory that when they graduate from college they’ll stay and work here in the professions they’ve chosen,” Sanchez said.

If House Bill 35 passes, it will be more than a theory.


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