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PRESS RELEASE

July 14, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces New College Grants for Florida Students
Grants encourage students to take rigorous courses, bolster postsecondary opportunities

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that Florida students who qualify for Pell Grants may be able to take advantage of a new grant program to help make college more affordable. During the 2006-07 school year, the state aims to award more than 30,000 full-time eligible students approximately $47 million in new Academic Competitiveness (AC) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grants worth between $750 and $4,000 per student.

"Florida will now be able to provide even more opportunity for students to achieve their goals of attending and completing college," said Governor Jeb Bush. "These grants complement the A++ Plan for Education which is committed to increasing the rigor of high school for students and ensuring they are ready for the challenges of the real world."

The Higher Education Reconciliation Act (HERA) of 2005 created the two new federally funded financial aid campus-based programs. States were asked by the U.S. Department of Education to submit proposals identifying alternative rigorous high school programs. Thirty-six states were approved including Florida. Bright Futures coursework, courses similar to the State Scholars Initiative, and Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses (including passing the exam for these classes) all met the AC grant program requirements for rigorous high school curriculum.

"These grants create an incentive for students to take more challenging courses during high school which will better prepare them for success in college," said Commissioner Winn. "Now these hard-working students will have more resources to attend college."

The AC grants provide college students who completed a rigorous course of study in high school with additional funds of up to $750 during their freshman year and up to $1,300 during their sophomore year. This is in addition to Pell Grant funds students already are receiving. College juniors and seniors who are eligible for SMART grants automatically will receive up to $4,000 in additional aid next year.

For comprehensive information about available financial aid, students and their parents should visit www.FACTS.org, Florida's official online student advising system. Links are provided to federal, state and institutional financial aid websites, and in August will feature specific information about the AC and SMART grants.