(November 12, 2003 ) Senator Ken Pruitt (R., Port St. Lucie) brought his Brighter Futures Bus Tour to New College of Florida this afternoon and was greeted by more than 100 students and faculty members, who came to show support for his initiatives to preserve Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program for higher education. The event was held at the Sudakoff Center on New College’s Sarasota campus.
“Brighter Futures is something you’ve worked for,” said Pruitt during his address to students. “It’s something you’ve earned. We need to make sure that the legislature can’t come take this away from you and your families and your future families.”
Citing statistics from the Florida Department of Education, Pruitt claimed that for every $1 invested in higher education in the state there was a $9 economic benefit gained. He also argued that Bright Futures is needed to offset the rising cost of higher education in Florida. According to Pruitt, tuition at Florida’s colleges and universities has increased by more than 100 percent over the past ten years.
Students at New College, the state’s public honors college, would be particularly hard hit by cutbacks to the Bright Futures program. Of the 513 in-state students attending the College, 380 (or 74%) receive full or partial scholarships through Bright Futures. Altogether, 57% of New College’s total undergraduate population of 671 students receives scholarship money through the program.
New College was the third to last stop on Pruitt’s Brighter Futures Bus Tour, which began at Pensacola Junior College on October 1 and will end at Florida Gulf Coast University on November 13. During the tour, Pruitt has traversed the state in a converted yellow school bus talking with students and faculty at all 28 universities and community colleges around the state.