Putting Education Reform To The Test

Everything You Need To Know About Applying For Bright Futures Scholarships And What They Cover


The value of Bright Futures scholarships has gone down in Florida as tuition has jumped, but they’re still a good deal.

Requirements have changed, so let’s take a look at what students need to do to receive a Bright Futures award and keep it each year they’re in college.

The program provides three levels of scholarship awards:

  1. Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) award – worth up to $100 per semester hour at a 4-year university
  2. Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) award – worth up to $75 per semester hour at a 4-year university
  3. Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV) award — worth up to $75 per semester hour at a 4-year university for renewals

Additionally, the Academic Top Scholars (ATS) award is given to the Florida Academic Scholar (FAS) with the highest academic ranking in each county. The recipient receives a fixed cost per credit hour award worth up to $43 per semester hour at a 4-year university.

The scholarships don’t cover a fixed percentage of tuition anymore.

Now, Bright Futures winners receive a fixed cost per credit hour based on:

  • Scholarship award level – FAS, FMS, or GSV
  • Type of post secondary institution they attend – 4-year, 2-year, or career
  • Credit type – semester, quarter or clock hours

To apply for a scholarship, a student must fill out the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is required each year the student wants to receive Bright Futures money.

To be eligible for a scholarship, students must meet these requirements:

  • Be a Florida resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Not be in default under any state or federal grant, loan, or scholarship program unless satisfactory arrangements have been made for repayment.
  • Meet specific coursework and minimum grade point average (GPA) and test score requirements — includes 16 credits in specific core courses and community service hours.
  • Submit the FAFSA every year. The FAFSA does not have to indicate financial need. It must be processed error free prior to the student’s first award disbursement of the academic year.

The award amounts have changed over the years to keep up with the growing demand even as lottery revenue declined during the recession. The Florida Lottery funds the scholarships.

1997-98:  42,319 scholarships worth a total of $69,566,969 were disbursed. The average cost per award was $1,644.

2010-11:  179,076 scholarships worth a cost of $423,269,545 were disbursed.The average cost per award was $2,364.

Fees aren’t covered anymore. As of 2009-10, the FAS college-related expense allowance is no longer available.


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