By: Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
Ph: (305) 494-9389
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship covers between 75-100% of tuition and fees at a Florida state university or college. To qualify for the scholarship, the student must graduate from a Florida high school and achieve a minimum grade point average (GPA) and a minimum Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) score. There is also a requirement of certain community service hours. If you have a Florida Prepaid Plan you can combine it with the Bright Futures Scholarship. So, how does it all work?
First, apply for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship by completing the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA). This application is in ADDITION to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAS (Florida Academic Scholar) scholarship will cover 100% of tuition and fees whereas the FMS (Florida Medallion Scholars) scholarship will cover 75% of tuition and fees. Keep in mind that you need to be a Florida resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen. You must graduate from a Florida high school which could be public, private, or a home school program.
Students who graduate from an Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) curriculum such as the Cambridge International Program or from an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum program automatically qualify for the scholarship. For the rest of you, the chart below lists the academic course requirements for the scholarship, but for the most part, all Florida high schools ensure that students graduate with those requirements.
GPA and test scores are also part of the requirements. To qualify for an award, you must achieve a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. If you achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher, you may qualify for the full tuition award which is the FAS type scholarship. In addition to GPA, the student must reach a minimum score on either the SAT or ACT tests. Students who graduate in 2021 will have to score a little higher on their tests as the requirements were changed (see above). Finally, students must accumulate at least 75 volunteer hours to qualify.
If you choose to attend a private college or university in the state of Florida, you will still be able to receive funding, but it will not cover full tuition. For example, the University of Miami website states: “For the 2019-2020 academic year recipients of the Florida Academic Scholars will receive $211 per credit plus a $300 book allowance per term and recipients of the Florida Medallion Scholars will receive $158 per credit. The University of Miami will include an estimated award for the year based on 15 credits of enrollment each semester (i.e.; estimated FL Academic Scholars $6930 for the year — $3465 fall and $3465 spring) ” (https://finaid.miami.edu/types-of-aid/florida-aid-programs/index.html). In other words, you would receive approximately $6930.00 to pay for a year of tuition at the University of Miami which in 2020-2021 was $52,060 per year (https://finaid.miami.edu/cost/index.html). At Florida International University (FIU), the annual tuition in 2019-2020 was $6168.00 (https://onestop.fiu.edu/finances/estimate-your-costs/undergraduate-tuition-fees/).
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for Florida high school graduates to fund their college education. If you have a Florida Prepaid plan, even better! Confirm with your university, but the school should be able to charge the Florida Prepaid plan first and then use any Bright Futures funds to cover remaining expenses not covered by Florida Prepaid such as books, transportation or lab fees. Monies leftover in the Bright Futures Scholarship can be “deposited” and used toward housing and living expenses or even for a summer semester. (https://www.myfloridaprepaid.com/collegedefinitely/florida-bright-futures-florida-prepaid-winning-combo/)
Obtaining the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship can be difficult. You may find yourself taking the SAT or ACT more times than expected in order to get the needed score even if you were already accepted to college. However, if you can pull qualify, you have the possibility to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree and little to no debt. And THAT is totally worth it.