SWFL students could get free tuition with new state bill

If one of two bills proposed in Florida passes, your son or daughter may get a full ride for an associate’s degree or certificate. Florida SouthWestern State College is one of the academic institutions that will be able to participate, but not all schools can.

Florida SouthWestern students, Haydi Barrow and Katherine Parajon, said going to class is the easy part of their lives.

“Everybody struggling to pay for school,” Barrow said.

Without student aid, Parajon said it would be a “bad struggle,” since she has to pay “her own bills.”

“I work 40 hours a week,” Parajon said. “So, I just put extra stress on me.”

Two Florida bills could eliminate that stress. Florida lawmakers are debating whether to create a scholarship that would pay 100% of tuition and fees for students pursuing an associate’s degree or a career certificate.

Students who take the money are required to work in Florida after they graduate for the same amount of time they were on scholarship.

Jim Wall, who works at CareerSource SWFL, said one of the biggest dilemmas in our workforce is “brain drain.”

“This is where people get educated here,” Wall said, “but they leave the area for experience.”

Wall said the scholarship plan would make an immediate impact on our economy. Parajon told us she does not like giving up her freedom to work wherever she pleases after graduation.

“I wouldn’t want to be held down by something,” Parajon said.

But Parajon admits she would take the scholarship if it means graduating debt-free.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
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