Gianna Cifredo 7 min read 11th Grade, Scholarships

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship: How to Apply

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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!

 

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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): 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. This award 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. (Note: Some of these requirements have been suspended for the classes of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the section below for more information.)

 

Requirements (Pre-COVID)

 

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.

 

The program-specific requirements are:

GPA (weighted) Test Scores Service Hours Coursework Diploma/

Other

FAS 3.5 ACT: 29

SAT: 1290

100 • 4 English classes

• 4 math classes

• 3 natural science classes

• 3 social science classes

• 2 world language classes (same language)

• Standard FL HS diploma

•Registered Florida Department of Education

• GED

• Home education

• Non-FL HS diploma (special circumstances)

FMS 3.0 ACT: 26

SAT: 1170

75 • 4 English classes

• 4 math classes

• 3 natural science classes

• 3 social science classes

• 2 world language classes (same language)

• Standard FL HS diploma

• Registered Florida Department of Education

• GED

• Home education

• Non-FL HS diploma (special circumstances)

GSV 3.0 (core academic classes)

3.5 (career and technical education program courses)

ACT:
Reading: 19English: 17Math: 19SAT:

Reading: 24

Writing and Language: 25

Math: 24

Florida Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT):

Reading: 106

Writing: 103

Math: 114

30 3 classes in a career and technical education program  Must be accepted to or enroll in a career education or certificate program

 

Notes on FAS and FMS

 

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:

 

 

Special Circumstances

 

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.

 

Modifications Due to COVID-19

 

In light of the pandemic, which has prevented many students from completing the requirements for the Florida Bright Futures program, some requirements have been waived or modified:

 

Class of 2020

 

  • Students who couldn’t complete the required volunteer hours may submit a letter stating that they planned or intended to complete them, signed by a guidance/school counselor or other authorized school official.
  • The deadline for taking standardized tests has been extended from June 30 to December 1, 2020.

 

Class of 2021

 

  • FAS: The minimum qualifying combined SAT score has been raised to 1330. ACT scores are unaffected.
  • FMS: The minimum qualifying combined SAT score has been raised to 1210. The minimum qualifying ACT composite score has been lowered to 25.

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How Do You Know if You’re Eligible for Bright Futures?

Eligibility Evaluation

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 (except in the case of the 2019–2020 school year, as noted above).

 

Final eligibility is sent out in July, after most students have finalized their college plans and there are no more SAT or ACT dates. (It’s not clear when final eligibility will be sent this year in light of the changes.)

 

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 free college applications platform.

 

Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, estimate your cost of attendance, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.

 

For more information about scholarships and paying for college, check out these posts:

 

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Gianna Cifredo
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.