Many state lotteries have sold themselves by advertising that they fund education. Of course what usually happens is that monies made by the lottery are offset by other cuts to educational funding. So, rather that the lottery being a big boon for education it is really a boon to the general fund. Nevertheless, Florida is one of the states that decided to use some of its lottery money to fund a special scholarship program called Bright Futures. It’s one of the few non-needs based scholarships left; it’s achievement based. Originally if a high school student attained a certain grade point average, scored high enough on the ACT/SAT, and did a prescribed number of community service hours, then Bright Futures would pay either 75% or 100% of in-state tuition, depending on the respective achievements. At the 100% achievement level, $300.00 of book expenses was covered too. Those were the guideline when our three oldest children began college. Now things have changed.
A few short years later as our youngest child is about to begin college, the 100% level has dropped to 56%. The 75% level has dropped to 42%. The funding has dropped almost 20% in the last year. It’s not a case that the lottery business in Florida is hurting. Once again the state’s general fund is siphoning off money that was intended for education. It’s hard to trust legislators with finances.