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.


  • Curly Sue

    So basically Mr. Smith wants to turn a scholarship into a loan.

  • jmgaby

    Maybe the worst idea I’ve heard this year! History shows that students tend to stay in the region where they attend school. Cool. That’s why we created Bright Futures. To punish them for relocating is absurd and flat out wrong.

  • K. Hatcher

    That’s all well and good until these same students can’t get a job in Florida. It’s hard enough for graduates to find a job as it is. Poor reasoning here, and stepping over the line of personal freedom as far as I am concerned.

    • EducateFL

      agree 100 percent

    • Daniel

      Personal freedom? Are you talking about the same personal freedom that is taken to pay for these scholarships? This is similar to teach for America and the fact you think taking a scholarship with strings means losing personal freedom scares me.

  • Just a Question

    What’s wrong with this concept, should it become law, being part of a family’s decision-making process?

    As an aside, I’d be more comfortable describing Bright Futures a “scholarship” if a relative minority (as opposed to a relative majority) of college-bound seniors qualified for it.

  • Mr. Lee

    This is silly but I understand where he is coming from but the environment dictates the moves.

  • timeurchin

    Weren’t these the same excuses the Soviets used when they built the Berlin wall? Maybe if the gop wasn’t gutting pay and was trying to make Florida a more attractive place for college graduates, we would not need to embrace the policies of Khruschev to try to solve the problem.

  • EducateFL

    aren’t these scholarships earned by the students? Florida has the worst paying jobs no matter how well educated you are, this is the reason why they tend to branch out to other states. instead we should focus on creating better job prospects and more support for employees in the work force. having worked in and out of Florida employers are not willing to pay what the education is worth. if you want to keep good professionals in the state pay what we are worth!

  • This defeats the purpose of even trying to work hard to get the grades to qualify if it is just going to be treated as a loan. Glad I graduated over 10 years ago so I don’t get punished for wanting to do good for the sake of academics.

    This is a horrendous idea, especially when the money from the lottery pays for the scholarship not the state.

  • Donna Wright

    6 months for every semester the scholarship was used is too long. I can’t see requiring them to work for more than two years if Bright Futures was used for 8 semesters. We would also need to be able to guarantee them jobs that will earn them a competitive wage. Lets not also forget that to qualify for Bright Futures they are already required to do community service in addition to getting good grades.

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