Amber Mariano is a UCF student, but she’s also a newly-elected member of the House of Representatives from New Port Richey.

That may be why her first two bills filed, HB 153 and HB 155, have to do with reducing the financial burden on college students.

HB 153 deals with excess credit surcharges, increasing the number of credit hours students may enroll in before being billed with a 100 percent surcharge of the normal tuition rate.

Now, students who take at least 10 percent more credit hours than required are slapped with a 100 percent surcharge – HB 153 would increase the baseline credit hour to 120 percent instead of 110 percent, allowing for more leeway with the surcharge fees.

“Students should not be penalized for their curiosity to learn,” Mariano said. “Quite often, an 18-year old student will change his or her major after freshmen year without knowing that senior year will cost twice as much, a cost that is unaffordable for too many college students. This bill gives students more time to learn and explore.”

HB 155, meanwhile, would allow students to receive the Bright Futures scholarship in the summer semester, rather than only in the fall and spring semesters as is currently the rule.

“This is an opportunity to make Florida universities and colleges more affordable for the many hardworking students who have already qualified for Bright Futures,” Rep. Mariano said. “Students should have the ability to get an education on their terms, without having to take off the summer semester because it’s unaffordable.”

Through giving students more flexible options, Mariano says she hopes more of Florida’s brightest students will remain in the state.

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