Students and parents demanding requirement changes for Bright Futures scholarship amid pandemic

SAT tests in the state were canceled amid COVID-19 pandemic

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Many high school seniors in Florida have faced challenges trying to secure a Bright Futures scholarship amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When the coronavirus pandemic closed schools in the middle of March some testing sites also closed.

The scholarship developed in 1997 for Florida students to attend Florida universities now has some parents and students frustrated.

It’s a scholarship that offers the best chance of debt-free university education.

Gretchen Wilson will be graduating from Mainland High School in Daytona Beach on Thursday.

The college-bound senior said she has all the eligibility requirements for the Medallion Scholarship but is shy of the qualifying for the required SAT score.

“For the Bright Futures scholarship, for 75% you need to have 75 volunteer hours, a 3.0 GPA and 1170 on the SAT, and I had all of those but I had 1160 on the SAT,” Wilson said.

She said was signed up to take the test in May, when that was canceled, she signed up for June and that was also canceled too.

“For three months we were looking back and forth still studying, trying to figure out if it was going to happen and it didn’t happen,” Wilson said.

In June, the Florida Department of Education offered what many described as a partial solution. The agency extended the deadline to complete requirements for the scholarship from June 30 to July 31. The extension did little to resolve the testing dilemma many seniors face because of the next available date to take the SAT in August.

Michele Lipka’s daughter, Gabriella hoped with one more shot she could earn the SAT score needed to qualify for the Bright Futures scholarship.

“She started studying, she was doing everything she could, we scheduled her for the test, she was ready to go,” Lipka said.

However, she said Gabriella’s efforts and 4.68 GPA did not make a difference.

“Unfortunately we waited until it was bottom of the wire and they said ‘okay no SATs those have all been canceled now’,” Lipka said.

The Ocala mother said her daughter’s path to college depends on a standardized test score she can’t even earn.

“She is an incredible kid, and has worked very hard, she graduated with honors, there is nothing she can’t do,” Lipka said.

News 6 reached out to local lawmakers on Florida’s education committees and officials with the Florida Department of Education and are waiting to hear back.

About the Author: