Florida Bright Futures Scholarship: What You Need to Apply
Florida Bright Futures is a great scholarship for Florida residents planning to attend in-state institutions. It covers the cost of tuition and select fees depending on your academic accomplishments and the type of institution you plan on attending.
Although the requirements are specific, meeting the requirements virtually guarantees that you’ll get the scholarship. Here’s what you need to know to apply!
What are the Bright Futures Scholarships?
The Bright Futures scholarships, or simply Bright Futures, are a set of merit scholarships for Florida students. There are three main types of award:
Florida Academic Scholars (FAS): This award covers 100% of the cost of tuition for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program from a Florida institution, or up to 120 credit hours.
Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS): This award covers 75% of tuition for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program from a Florida institution, up to 120 credit hours.
Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV): This awards contributes a set amount towards your tuition based on the type of institution you plan to attend.
- It will fund up to 72 credit hours for technical degrees at $48 per hour, or 72 credit hours for career certificate programs at $39 per hour.
- It will fund up to 60 hours for applied technology degree programs at $39 per hour.
For both the FAS and FMS awards, a student can request funding for extended hours while you’re in college, if it becomes clear that you will need more than 120 hours to complete a bachelor’s degree.
What are the Bright Futures Scholarship Requirements?
The requirements for Bright Futures are very specific, and you must satisfy all of them to receive the award.
These requirements apply to the FAS, FMS, and GSV awards.
- Be a Florida resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, as determined by the college you wish to attend.
- Complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) no later than August 31 after high school graduation. For example, if you graduate in 2019, you must apply by August 31, 2019.
- Earn a standard Florida high school diploma or its equivalent from a Florida public high school or a registered Florida Department of Education (FDOE) private high school; or complete a home education program.
- Not have been found guilty of, or pled nolo contendere to, a felony charge.
- Be accepted by and enroll in a degree or certificate program at an eligible Florida public or independent postsecondary institution. Here’s a full list of eligible institutions.
- Be enrolled for at least 6 non-remedial semester credit hours per term.
Tip: To make sure that you receive the scholarship without complications, you should plan to enroll in the summer, fall or spring semesters following high school graduation, or else you’ll need to have your scholarship reinstated.
Requirements for FAS/FMS
These requirements apply to both Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars.
- Graduate with a standard Florida high school diploma, from a registered Florida Department of Education private school, earn a GED, complete a home education program, or in special circumstances, graduate from a non-Florida high school
- Complete the required high school coursework:
- 4 English classes
- 4 math classes
- 3 natural science classes
- 3 social science classes
- 2 world languages (in the same language)
Both the FAS and FMS have GPA, test score, and service hour requirements, but they are different for each. These are the requirements specifically for FAS:
- GPA (weighted): 3.5
- ACT/SAT Scores: 29 or 1290
- Service Hours: 100
These are the requirements for FMS:
- GPA (weighted): 3.0
- ACT/SAT: 26 or 1170
- Service hours: 75
For the standardized tests, you do not need to take both the ACT and SAT, and the writing/essay scores are not included. These scores are superscored, so you can have the best chance of qualifying.
Just like the general Bright Futures requirements, these requirements are all or none. For example, if you have 100 service hours and 3.5 GPA but your SAT score is 1200, you would be eligible for the Florida Medallion Scholars award, not the Florida Academic Scholars award.
There are a few other ways to qualify. If you receive the National Merit Finalist or Scholars designation, or were selected as a National Hispanic Recognition Program scholar, then you can waive the test score requirement for the Florida Academic Scholars award or Florida Medallion Scholars award. You’ll still need to complete the required number of service hours, though—100 for FAS and 75 for FMS.
You can also waive the test score requirement if you receive your AICE Diploma or IB Diploma. However, you’ll still need to do service hours to receive an award.
For more information about GPA, test scores, and volunteering, check out these posts:
- What is the Highest GPA Possible? What is an Average GPA?
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Apply for a Volunteer Position in High School
Requirements for GSV
The Gold Seal Vocational award is given to students who want to enter a career or technical program that can be completed in two years or less. These are the requirements to qualify:
- Be accepted to or enroll in a career education or certificate program
- Earn a minimum 3.0 weighted GPA in core academic courses in high school
- Take at least 3 classes in a career and technical education program and earn a 3.5 GPA in those courses
- Complete 30 service hours
- Earn the minimum scores on the ACT, SAT, or Florida Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT). The score requirements are listed below:
- Reading: 19
- English: 17
- Math: 19
- Reading: 24
- Writing and Language: 25
- Math: 24
- Reading: 106
- Writing: 103
- Math: 114
Although Bright Futures is generally very strict with requirements, there are some special circumstances where an altered set of requirements apply.
For homeschooled students: You must have been registered as homeschooled during grades 11 and 12 with your local school district. If so, you will follow the general and specific requirements for the scholarship you are interested in. Most likely, you’ll need the service agency to verify your hours on their letterhead. If you were not registered as homeschooled during both 11 and 12, you’ll apply as a GED student.
For GED students: You must meet the high school course and GPA requirement prior to taking the GED exam. You’ll need to follow the same general and scholarship specific requirements, although you’ll also need to submit all relevant transcripts and confirm that your GED diploma was verified by FDOE.
For out-of-state students: This option is available for students who live with a parent or guardian who is a Florida resident but is on military or public service assignment outside of Florida. You still need to meet the general course, GPA, service hours, and test score requirements, but you’ll also need to provide official high school transcripts, documentation for the out-of-state assignment and proof of dependency.
How Do You Know if You’re Eligible for Bright Futures?
With Bright Futures, if you meet all the requirements and submit your application by the deadline, you can almost guarantee eligibility.
The Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) is free and available online. You can submit the FFAA anytime during your senior year of high school, and we recommend you submit it as early as possible. It’s a basic form that asks for your demographic information, your high school information and intended college plans, and you can update it throughout the year, including sending updated test scores, so there’s no need to wait.
By submitting the FFAA and an unofficial transcript that includes fall semester senior grades, you can receive an initial eligibility evaluation beginning in March. But if the evaluation isn’t favorable, don’t worry—this is not the final eligibility decision. You can update anything that doesn’t currently meet the requirements, especially test scores and service hours, through June of your senior year.
Final eligibility is sent out in July, after most students have finalized their college plans and there are no more SAT or ACT dates.
Tips for Meeting Eligibility Requirements
Take this advice from someone who received this scholarship herself: you will want to start planning early in high school to make sure you’re eligible for Bright Futures by senior year. Above all, work closely with your school counselor to make sure you’re on track with your courses, GPA, and service hours.
Courses and GPA: Make sure you are taking a variety of core courses each year and that you are doing as well as you can in them. If you choose to take advanced courses like AP, IB, AICE, or dual enrollment, you want to make sure that you’re still earning around a B or higher in those courses. This will not only make sure you meet the GPA for Bright Futures, but will also look good to college admissions officers!
Test Scores: It’s important that you first take a diagnostic test and study to improve your scores. We’ve compiled free, official practice tests for both the ACT and SAT so you can decide which test format you prefer: Links to all the Official ACT practice test and other resources and Links to Every SAT practice test and other free resources.
For students interested in the Gold Seal Vocational Scholars award, the PERT is a popular choice because it’s administered at many public colleges year-round. It’s generally considered the least stressful of the standardized tests, giving you plenty of time to think through each question. For more information and study guides, visit the Florida Department of Education.
Service Hours: Get involved with a nonprofit organization that you care about. For most public school students, you’ll report your hours to your school counselor, who will log your hours into the FDOE system directly. Your school may have specific requirements about what counts and doesn’t count as service, so make sure you check with your school counselor about how to properly record service hours.
Wrapping it Up
This scholarship is a great opportunity for Florida students to reduce the cost of college, but becoming eligible for it requires that you begin planning in your freshman year. That’s why CollegeVine offers our Mentorship Program; we pair you with a high-achieving college student who gives you one-on-one guidance about choosing classes and extracurricular activities to make sure you’re a top applicant for any college or scholarship by senior year.
For more information about scholarships and paying for college, check out these posts:
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