Preserve Florida Resident Access Grants
"Since almost 50 percent of the recipients of FRAG (Florida Resident Access Grants) are the first in their families to attend college, I am committed to preserving how important this program is in creating access to success in Florida."
Scott increases budget for private college grants
Updated: Friday, February 11th, 2011 | By Amy Sherman
Gov. Rick Scott wants to preserve a program that gives money to students to attend dozens of private colleges within Florida. That's the Florida Resident Access Grant program, started in 1979.
During the campaign, Scott said on his website: "Since almost 50 percent of the recipients of FRAG (Florida Resident Access Grants) are the first in their families to attend college, I am committed to preserving how important this program is in creating access to success in Florida."
The Florida Department of Education website describes FRAG as tuition assistance to Florida undergraduate students attending an eligible private, non-profit Florida college or university.
Among the requirements: students must be Florida residents, not have previously received a baccalaureate degree, enroll for at least 12 credit hours per term and not be enrolled in a program leading to a degree in theology or divinity. Students can receive the award for a maximum of nine semesters or 14 quarters. According to the 2010-11 state budget, "Funds are provided to support 34,580 students at $2,425 per student."
About 30 schools are eligible to participate in 2010-11. A 2009-10 report stated that FRAG is not related to a student's financial need.
In his two-year budget plan released Feb. 7, 2011, Scott proposed about $86.2 million for 2010-11 and about $84.9 million in 2012-13 from general revenue. That's a drop of about $1.4 million between the first year and the second year.
But it's still an increase for both years compared to the 2010-11 budget under his predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist. That budget shows about $58 million from general revenue and $25.9 million from the federal grants trust fund for a total of about $83.9 million.
A chart on page 37 of a financial assistance report to the education commissioner in October 2010 shows that between 2005-06 and 2009-10, the number of students receiving the grant climbed to 38,674 in 2009-10 -- the highest in the five years. Students that year received an average grant of about $2,175.
During that same stretch of five years, appropriations dropped to a low point of $84.2 million in the final year, while the highest year was a $102.6 million appropriation. That means that Scott's budget proposals of about $86 million and $85 million are higher than the most recent year, but not as high as some previous years when the economy was booming.
Scott promised to preserve Florida Resident Access Grants. By slightly increasing the funding in his budget proposal compared to the current fiscal year, he has taken an important step. But at this point his budget is merely a proposal -- and FRAG has had dwindling appropriations in recent years. We rate this promise In The Works.
Rick Scott for Governor, campaign website, 2010
Gov. Rick Scott, Budget, Released Feb. 7, 2011
Florida House, 2010-11 budget
Florida Department of Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance Annual Report to the Commissioner, 2009-10
Florida Department of Education, 2010-11 Florida Resident Access Grant Program Eligible Institutions
Florida Department of Education, William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program Fact Sheet, Accessed Feb. 10, 2011
Sun-Sentinel, "Use higher education as key to economic development," Dec. 8, 2010
Interview, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters, Feb. 10, 2011
Interview, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida President Ed Moore, Feb. 10, 2010
We want to hear your suggestions and comments. Email the Florida Truth-O-Meter with feedback and with claims you'd like to see checked. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.