Florida residents are paying significantly lower tuition rates at state universities and colleges than out-of-state students but there are also several options to get a college education for free in Florida.
For full-time Florida students, the average annual tuition for a public college or university is between $4,800 and $6,100 annually. For out-of-state students, this amount will be at least four times as high.
To receive financial aid, first, start with the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the first step in the process of applying for federal financial support and you also need to complete the Florida Financial Aid Application.
But let’s check out a few great options available to get your college or university education and training for free.
First, we’ll look at the Bright Futures Scholarship options, and later on, we’ll also take a look at some interesting scholarship programs.
Bright Futures Florida Scholarship Program
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program (FBFSP) awards grants to Florida high school graduates that enroll in a publicly-funded university or college in Florida.
The scholarships are mainly based on a student’s academic achievement and the amount awarded depends on the student’s GPA; SAT, ACT, or PERT scores or scores on another college-entrance exam; hours of community service; and a few other relevant factors.
If you think you may qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship, keep in mind that an evaluation will be made based on information made available from your school district in combination with details from the Florida Department of Education. Your school counselor is the appropriate contact person to get information from regarding your possible eligibility status.
There are four qualification options in the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program:
- The Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS)
- The Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS)
- The Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship
- The Gold Seal Cape Scholarship
Practically all applicants fall into the FAS or FMS category so let’s take a closer look at these two options. As said earlier, the requirements to qualify are based on the applicant’s grade point average (GPA), standardized college entrance exam test scores, and the number of community service hours. For information about hands-on training at Florida Career College, we’ve also created an informative post about the school with many locations across Florida.
FAS and FMS Scholarships
The requirements to qualify for the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS) or the Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS) are as follows:
FAS: a GPA of at least 3.5, an SAT score of at least 1290 (or equivalent on the ACT), and at least 100 hours of verifiable community service. The FAS scholarship covers the full cost of tuition at a school participating in the Florida Public College and University System plus a modest stipend.
FMS: a GPA of at least 3.0 an SAT score of at least 1170 (or equivalent on the ACT), and at least 75 hours of verifiable community service. The FMS scholarship covers 75 percent of the tuition cost. Starting in 2021, the FAS and FMS SAT standards will be raised.
The Florida Bright Futures scholarship program is funded by the state’s Lottery and goes back to 1997. Over the past years, the Florida Lottery has contributed over $5 billion to help more than 800,000 Florida students complete their college education.
To be eligible for a Bright Futures Scholarship, students need to fall at least in the “B-student” category which means that less than 25 percent of all Florida high school seniors are eligible.
So does a Bright Futures Scholarship cover all of your college-related expenses? Well, not really. The total cost of going to college or university includes a lot more than just tuition and includes also books, dorm fees, meal plans, technology fees, athletics fees, parking passes, etc.
And then, to keep the Bright Futures Scholarship, you must maintain eligibility status by completing enough credit hours and maintaining your GPS at least at the required level. What really helps to maintain your status is watching your weight and working out regularly as well.
So Bright Futures Scholarships are available for high school seniors who work hard, show good test results, and are devoted to community service. Just check out if you qualify and a bright future with an affordable, even tuition-free, college education may be yours to enjoy!
Participating postsecondary educational institutions must meet minimum requirements as well. The schools and/or their academic programs need to hold accreditation by an agency that’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. They must hold appropriate licensure and have been operational in Florida for at least, in general, three years.
Funding for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program is decided upon by state legislators and so are the requirements and the bar was raised for students to qualify. Starting in 2021, the SAT requirements will be raised to 1330 for FAS and 1200 for FMS scholarships.
You may also want to check out this post about the University of Miami. The prestigious school awards several merit-based scholarship awards to promising first-year undergraduate students that have demonstrated exceptional achievements. These awards cover full tuition and more for four years making a totally free college education in Florida possible!
Postsecondary Grants and Scholarships
The Florida Department of Education also runs the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA). This Office provides lots of information for students, their parents, and high school study advisors. The OSFA helps Florida college and university students gain access to various financial aid resources provided by the state.
The Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) program is a need-based aid program for undergraduate Florida residents looking to enroll in a public community college or state university in Florida.
The university or college must be accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education and be qualified to administer Pell Grants. The program is aimed at Florida students looking to attend a vocational training program.
The FSAG-Private grant is for students attending a program at one of Florida’s community colleges or career centers that offers career certificate programs of at least 15 semester credit hours or 450 hours in total.
Students need to be Florida residents and the FSAG-Private grant is developed to help Florida college students that are enrolled outside of the Florida public college and university system. Qualifying students are enrolled in independent universities or colleges that are nonprofit educational institutions.
Eligible schools need to be located in Florida, hold SACS accreditation (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), offer bachelor’s degrees, be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and be approved to administer Pell Grants.
Then there also is the Scholarship program for Children & Spouses of Disabled or Deceased Veterans (CSDDV). This program offers grants for students of whom a parent lost his/her life while serving in the armed forces or who became permanently disabled due to military service.
Last Updated on May 17, 2020