SGA Leaders Fight to Save EASE Grants in Tallahassee
Stetson students in the Student Government Association will travel to Tallahassee on Wednesday to urge state legislators to oppose further cuts to Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) Grants, which provide $2,800 a year for state residents to attend Florida private universities.
Florida residents who attended in-state private universities currently receive $2,800 a year, down $700 from grants of $3,500 for 2018-19. Now, state legislators are considering even bigger changes for the 2020-2021 academic year by awarding the grants only based on financial need.
Statewide, about 43,000 undergraduates receive the grants to attend 29 private Florida colleges and universities. According to estimates, 26,000 students would be disqualified from receiving the grants, if the proposed legislation is approved. This means that 26,000 students would receive $0 from the EASE grant for the 2020-2021 academic year and going forward.
At Stetson, 2,000 undergraduate students currently benefit from the EASE program. The Stetson Student Government Association (SGA) has been hard at work communicating the proposed restrictions for EASE to the student body:
- We started a social media campaign with the Save Ease Instagram account and #Save Ease.
- We launched a student letter-writing campaign, which resulted in almost 400 letters to be sent to state legislators.
- We have contacted and united with SGAs at other Independent Colleges and Universities in Florida.
- And 10 SGA leaders, including President George Alderman, will travel to Tallahassee for the day on Wednesday, Feb. 26, to send a clear message to legislators: Do not restrict EASE.
As students, the ability to choose where you go to school is a hard choice. On top of the many factors in choosing a college, cost is one of the dominating factors dictating a student’s selection. Cost can mean the difference between one school or another and determine the range of schools that a student can select.
The EASE grant, formerly known as the Florida Resident Access Grant, or FRAG, is one of the educational assistance programs that provide options for Florida residents when it comes to choosing a college. Since its inception in 1979, the program has helped students to consider and attend Florida private institutions.
In order to be eligible for EASE, a student currently must have the following qualifications:
- Be a Florida resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- Not owe a repayment or be in default under any state or federal grant, loan or scholarship program unless satisfactory arrangements to repay have been made.
- Not have previously received a baccalaureate degree.
- Enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours per term, or the equivalent, at an eligible Florida college or university.
- Be an undergraduate student who is in the process of attaining a first baccalaureate degree.
- Meet Florida’s general eligibility requirements for receipt of state aid.
As a member of the Stetson Community, what can you do to save EASE?
If you would like to take action, we encourage you to reach out to your state representative and state senator and tell them to vote against any cuts to the EASE Program! By making our collective voice heard in Tallahassee, we can make sure that this hugely important program is not touched.
As students, it is our right to pursue an education and EASE is another tool that allows us to do just that. That is what we are fighting for.
– Joshua Finkelstein ’22 serves as a Chair of Academic Affairs in the Student Government Association and will travel to Tallahassee on Wednesday with SGA leaders. He is an Accounting Major and an ICUF Presidential Scholar.