During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Rick Scott promised to continue Florida Resident Access Grants, a program that gives tuition assistance to students who attend certain private colleges in Florida.
Florida undergraduates can qualify for FRAG grants if they attend an eligible private, non-profit Florida college or university and meet specific criteria, including maintaining high enough GPA.
Noting that almost 50 percent of the recipients of such grants are the first in their families to attend college, Scott said, "I am committed to preserving how important this program is in creating access to success in Florida," he wrote on his campaign website in 2010.
Scott's promise wasn't specific as to the total dollars or number of students served. He only promised to "preserve" the program.
During the 2010-11 budget year -- reflecting levels approved by Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist -- FRAG disbursed $83 million in grants. The money went to 39,427 students who received an average of $2,109. That was lower than some years of Crist's tenure, when the economy was booming.
From point, the total amounts disbursed have fallen, as have the average amount per student. However, the total number of students served has increased. Specifically:
• For 2011-12, FRAG disbursed $73.6 million, averaging $1,734 for about 42,500 students.
• For 2012-13, FRAG disbursed $75 million, averaging $1,752 for nearly 43,000 students.
• For 2013-14, we don't have final disbursement totals, but FRAG received $89.7 million in appropriations. That's notable because it would put the program on track to disburse more for 2013-14 than it did during Crist's final year in office. (Disbursments are typically very close to the amount appropriated by the Legislature, said Cheryl Etters, Department of Education spokeswoman.)
This was not a tough promise for Scott to keep, because he simply pledged to "preserve" the program. But he has indeed achieved that goal. Initially, the amount disbursed under the program dropped below what it was in Crist's final year, but for the most recent year, it has exceeded what it was in Crist's final year. We rate this a Promise Kept.