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More Than Half of Black and Hispanic Students Would Not Qualify For Bright Futures Scholarships

More than half of Florida’s Hispanic and black students at state universities currently eligible for the state’s Bright Futures college scholarship would no longer qualify when new standards take effect on July 1, according to a University of South Florida analysis obtained by the Florida College Access Network.

By comparison, about 40 percent of white and Asian students at state universities would no longer be eligible for the scholarship.

The minimum SAT and ACT scores required to eligible for the merit-based scholarships is increasing. The new standards would only apply to those seeking the scholarship for the first time, and not for those renewing the scholarship. The analysis is based on State University System data for students enrolling in college for the first time in summer/fall 2010 and summer/fall 2011.

Students graduating in the spring of 2014 would have to score 1170 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. Currently, students have to score 1020 on the SAT or 22 on the ACT while maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

“We believe all students can rise and meet high academic standards,” Braulio Colon, executive director of the Florida College Access Network said in a statement, “but the current scheduled increase in eligibility requirements for this important scholarship program is a dramatic jump that jeopardizes access for thousands of college-going students and relies too heavily on standardized test scores for measuring academic merit.”

Florida C.A.N. underwrites StateImpact Florida’s coverage.

According to the analysis, 87 percent of Hispanic freshmen met the current standards. About one-third would qualify under the new standards.

About half of black freshmen qualified for scholarship in 2012. Just one in eight would qualify under the new standards.

Less than one-quarter of the freshmen enrolling at Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida A&M University, Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of West Florida would be eligible under the new standards.

The Florida College Access Network wants a sliding scale for SAT and ACT requirements. The higher a students grade point average, the lower the required score on the SAT and ACT.

For instance, a student with a 4.0 GPA would need to score at least 980 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT. A student with a 3.0 GPA would need to score at least 1210 on the SAT and 27 on the ACT.

The group would also like the scholarships to consider financial need when issuing awards.

Copyright 2013 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

John O’Connor is a reporter for StateImpact Florida, a project of WUSF, WLRN and NPR covering education. John writes for the StateImpact Florida blog and produces stories for air on Florida public radio stations.