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 Editor, The Beacon:

My family and I have been fighting hard, along with more than 8,000 members in a Facebook group, to get politicians to listen. 

We are following SB 86 closely as it makes its way through the committees in the Florida Legislature. My family has sent postcards to all of the Republican senators as well as Gov. DeSantis in case it ends up on his desk.

I have two boys who benefit from Bright Futures. My middle son goes to Daytona State College to study computer science and plans to be a police officer. He lives at home so he can graduate with absolutely no debt.

My youngest just got accepted to the University of Florida to study environmental science and plans to get a master’s in engineering. He obviously will have more expenses, so it definitely impacts him more. My youngest wrote a postcard and I wanted to share the message he wrote with you:

“I am a senior at Spruce Creek High School. I have dealt with working at Publix at the height of COVID and dealing with online school due to COVID. I have missed out on Homecoming, prom and GradBash because of COVID.

“Through it all, I have worked hard to earn 100 percent Bright Futures so I can attend the University of Florida in the fall. I always knew I would need it to attend my dream school because my parents couldn’t afford to send me, so I studied, volunteered, and took my SAT three times to make sure I qualified. My parents said the future is unclear because you aren’t guaranteeing full funding for Bright Futures.

“I am nervous to commit to the University of Florida if I will have my award reduced next year and have to come home because I can’t afford to stay.

“Please keep the commitment to fully fund Bright Futures because I worked so hard to earn it. I heard Sen. Baxley said it was an entitlement — it is not. I earned it through hard work, and respectfully request you keep it funded 100 percent and 75 percent, as well as the stipend which I will depend on for books and supplies.

“Thank you, Joey Colletti”

Please bring attention to the negative aspect of this bill not guaranteeing funding through their college years. How is a family supposed to make a four- or even five-year decision with the uncertainty of what the budget will cover in the years to come? My son has committed to the University of Florida and we can afford this coming year because he has been awarded 100 percent Bright Futures, but what happens next year?

I am not into politics, so I can’t even understand the language in which this bill is written, but I know when I am being manipulated and don’t appreciate politicians playing with my children’s future. 

My kids have chosen paths that will lead them to make positive changes in this world, and we all need more of that.

Cassandra Colletti

Port Orange

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