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President Office — Press Release


January 11, 2018

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229

Senate Unanimously Passes Permanent Expansion of Bright Futures Scholarship

SB 4 Secures Permanent Expansion of Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarships

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today unanimously passed Senate Bill 4, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018, sponsored by Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton). Senate Bill 4 expands the state university and student financial aid portions of the higher education agenda advanced last session in the Senate, a top priority of Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). The bill includes approximately $124 million to fund the scholarship programs addressed in the bill for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.


“This legislation will provide the policy and budget resources our universities need to increase their ability to compete as national destination institutions, while preserving access and increasing affordability for Floridians,” said President-Designate Galvano. “From the permanent expansion of Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarships, to codifying key investments in faculty recruitment and improving the quality of our excellent graduate and professional schools, this bill boosts the strength and competitiveness of our state universities as our primary economic engine to drive vibrant, sustainable economic development and growth in high-paying jobs for not only this generation, but also future generations of Florida students.”


 “I am pleased to see Senate Bill 4 earn the unanimous support of the Senate during the first week of Session, and I look forward to sending this critical bill to the House for their consideration,” said President Negron. “The historic increase in need-based student financial aid we passed last year is already built into our budget. However, without Senate Bill 4, the increase in Bright Futures funding for our Academic Scholars could end after this school year. Additionally, without Senate Bill 4, our Medallion Scholars may not have a chance to see their scholarship increased to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees. We have to make these changes permanent. Senate Bill 4 ensures Bright Futures scholarship funding is available for the students who earned it, so they can better plan their investment in an education at one of our excellent colleges or universities.”


Summary of Senate Bill 4 – The Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018



Senate Bill 4 expands merit-based and need-based financial aid funding and establishes flexible tuition policies available to families so every student in Florida who qualifies and earns the privilege to attend one of our state universities has the opportunity to pursue a higher education.


Expands Student Financial Assistance and Support

  • Expands need-based state aid, and university or college gift aid, for students with demonstrated financial need.
    • Expands the First Generation Matching Grant Program to include community college students and doubles the state match for private donations supporting the program (2:1 match).
    • Creates a new Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship for children of migrant families to earn technical and college credentials.


  • Expands merit-based state gift aid for high-performing students.
    • Reinstates full funding of the Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholar award at 100 percent of tuition and fees, plus $300 in fall and spring semesters to cover instructional materials and other costs, beginning in this 2017-2018 academic year and guarantees funding for 2018 summer term tuition and fees for Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholar awards. 
    • New provisions of the legislation this year reinstate funding for the Bright Futures Florida Medallion Scholar award at 75 percent of tuition and fees for fall and spring semesters, beginning in fall semester of the 2018-2019 academic year and guarantee funding for 2019 summer term tuition and fees for Bright Futures Florida Medallion Scholar awards. 
    • Expands Benacquisto Scholarship awards (full cost of attendance) to recruit out-of-state National Merit Scholar award winners.


Establishes Flexible Tuition and Fee Policies

  • Requires universities to implement an institutional block tuition and fee policy for full-time, in-state, undergraduate resident students.
    • Fall 2018 semester implementation for at least the entering freshman class – may be extended to include other students.
    • Must accommodate full-time student enrollment in at least 30 credits across any combination of fall, spring, or summer terms of the academic year.
    • Must maximize accelerated and transfer credit to facilitate on-time graduation and minimize excess hours.
    • Must be publicly approved by university boards of trustees and the Board of Governors, with updates and progress reports provided to the Legislature.


Increases Student Access to Internship and Job Opportunities

  • Requires each state university to use labor market projections and related degree production analyses to identify internship opportunities for students to benefit from industry experts and mentors, earn industry certifications, and become employed in high-demand fields.



Senate Bill 4 expands and enhances policy and funding tools state universities can leverage to recruit and retain the very best faculty, enrich professional and graduate school strength and viability, and bring aging infrastructure and research laboratories into the 21st century.


Establishes World Class Faculty Scholar Program

  • Creates the World Class Faculty Scholar Program to help universities recruit, recognize, and retain exemplary faculty, research scholars, and expert teams.


Establishes University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program

  • Creates the University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to promote quality and excellence in university professional schools, and improve graduate study outcomes in high-impact fields of medicine, law, and business.



Senate Bill 4 ensures universities remain accountable to Florida taxpayers by refining university performance expectations to incentivize and reward state university performance excellence and recognition in academics, instruction, research, and community accomplishments and achievements. 


Incentivizes On-Time Graduation of Full-Time Students

  • Refines university performance expectations to incentivize and reward institutions for graduating full-time bachelor degree students in four years.
    • Preeminent State Research University: Upgrades the graduation metric to a 4-year graduation rate of 60 percent or higher. The current metric is a 6-year rate at 70 percent or higher. The bill provides one transitional year for any university having earned preeminent or emerging preeminent status based on the 2018 determination under current metrics to maintain that status for the 2018-19 academic year and receive 2018-19 preeminence funds accordingly.
    • University Performance Incentive Funding: Updates metrics to specify a 4-year graduation rate and require benchmarks for the “access” metric that reward institutions for performance success in serving Pell grant students.
  • Tightens state university relationships with their direct-support organizations’ leadership, use of funds, and public disclosure activities. 


Promotes State University Programs of Excellence

  • Directs the Board of Governors to establish standards and measures to recognize, enhance, and promote individual degree programs in state universities across the system, which reflect national excellence, prominence, and distinction.