DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Gretchen Wilson is excited to be celebrating a huge milestone.
“I’m graduating tomorrow. I’m going to college next year,” Wilson said.
The special day is a distraction from the stress she’s been feeling about how to pay for college next year. Until COVID-19 hit, the Mainland High School student thought she had that all figured out.
“You go into senior year working towards that scholarship, and at the end of the year after prom is taken away and other things too, to have to worry about that,” she said.
Wilson is graduating with a 3.1 GPA. She said she completed 100 hours of community service (25 more than what’s required) and now she’s still just one SAT question away from qualifying for the Bright Futures Scholarship.
“I had taken it once and I was about 50 points away. I took it again and I was only 10 points away and I was like oh I’ll get it next time and then there wasn’t a next time,” Wilson said.
SAT tests that were supposed to be given in April, May, and June were canceled because of the pandemic. The state extended the qualifying deadline for the scholarship until the end of July, but that’s not helping her.
“There’s no more testing. There’s no more opportunities for me to get that scholarship,” she explained.
She said that’s robbing her of the potential for a 75% scholarship, covering what other scholarships haven’t for her tuition at Jacksonville University.
“Probably about $20,000 a year I would have had paid by them,” she explained.
Wilson and her mom wrote letters to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the State Board of Education, only to get an auto-reply in return. Wilson is trying not to let this get her down.
“I fell in love with the school, and I’m going to be able to twirl there and perform there, which is exciting. I got the featured twirlers position,” she explained.
She said it does stress her out knowing that, as of now, she will be graduating college in four years with $80,000 in student loans, something that was not part of her original academic plan. She is still holding out hope for the deadline to be put off long enough so she can take the SATs one more time.