What Is The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship?
The Florida Bright Futures scholarship, funded by the Florida Lottery, provides up to 100% of college tuition for Florida students who remain in the state of Florida for their higher education. Good news: if you meet the criteria for the scholarship, you’re virtually guaranteed the money! No essays, no fuss — just the opportunity to pursue your degree without the financial strain.
This article breaks down the four types of Bright Futures scholarships (the Florida Academic Scholarship and the Florida Medallion Scholarship being the most relevant for future college students), their requirements, the money they offer, and how to apply for them.
First, a quick chart with the key info:
|Florida Academic Scholar (FAS)||Florida Medallion Scholar (FMS)||Gold Seal Vocational Scholar (GSV)||Gold Seal CAPE Scholar (GSC)|
|Test Scores||SAT 1330 / ACT 29||SAT 1210 / ACT 25||SAT Reading 24, Writing Lang 25, Math 24|
ACT English 17, Reading 19, Math 19
|SAT Reading 24, Writing Lang 25, Math 24|
ACT English 17, Reading 19, Math 19
|GPA||3.5 Weighted||3.0 Weighted||3.0 Weighted and 3.5 Unweighted for career education courses||3.0 Weighted and 3.5 Unweighted for career education courses|
|Service Hours||100 Hours||75 Hours||30 Hours||30 Hours|
|Total Award Amount||100% of tuition + applicable fees (About $25,000 over 4 years!)||75% of tuition and applicable fees (About $19,000 over 4 years!)||Fixed cost per credit hour based on the type of institution – learn more here||Fixed cost per credit hour based on the type of institution – learn more here|
The GPA and service hour requirements are attainable for many students, but the SAT score minimums can be tricky.
Different Types of Bright Futures Programs
Here’s what you need to know to understand which scholarship is right for you.
- Florida Academic Scholar (FAS): The FAS scholarship awards recipients 100% of the cost of education at a Florida public college or university – about $25,000 across four years of college. For the high GPA and test score requirements, this scholarship can be tricky to earn.
- Florida Medallion Scholar (FMS): The FMS scholarship awards recipients 75% of the cost of education at a Florida public college or university, or about $19,000 across four years of college. While FMS scholars do receive 25% less funding than FAS scholars do, the reduced GPA and test score requirements mean this scholarship is awarded to many deserving students every year.
- Gold Seal Vocational Scholar (GSV): The GSV scholarship is awarded to students pursuing a certificate degree or vocational degree. GSV scholars earn up to 60 credit hours of funding for an applied technology program or up to 72 credit hours worth of funding for a technical degree program.
- Gold Seal CAPE Scholar (GSC): The GSC scholarship is designed for students who earned an associates degree through the CAPE program (specifically in the science or applied science fields) who will go on to earn a Bachelors of Science/Bachelors of Applied Science at a Florida school. The GSC award fully funds 60 credit hours, or about two years worth of classes.
The bottom line: for high school students hoping to attend a 4-year university program, the FAS and FMS scholarships are the most important to consider. The only real differences between the two are in award amount (about $6000 more for FAS scholars) and in GPA, SAT/ACT, and service hour requirements. (The Gold Seal Vocational Scholar award and the Gold Seal CAPE Scholar award are not the primary focus for most students!)
What Are The Requirements For The Bright Futures Scholarship?
We know it can be tricky to keep track of requirements across handbooks, fliers, and emails, so we’ve compiled a list of the most important Bright Futures requirements and explained what they mean and how you can achieve them.
This section of the article will focus on the Florida Academic Scholar and Florida Medallion Scholar awards.
For the SAT, the Florida Academic Scholar minimum score is a 1330, which falls in the 85-90th percentile – meaning that to earn the FAS, you should be scoring better than about 85% of your peers, and ranking in the upper 15%. For the Florida Medallion Scholar minimum score of 1210, you should aim to score in the 75-80th percentile, performing better than 75% of your peers to rank in the top 25% of SAT takers.
Note: you can take your superscore here, or the best score in math combined with the best score in reading/writing from any SAT test you’ve taken. Your College Board account can tell you what your superscore is!
For the ACT, an FAS score of 29 would place you in the 90th percentile, which means you rank in the top 10% of all ACT takers. For the FMS score of 25, you’ll be hoping to place in the 78th percentile, performing in the top 22%.
Across the board, these are impressive test scores. For students planning to afford college via the Bright Futures Scholarships, studying for the SAT/ACT will be an essential part of the application process. Consider accessing free online resources, partnering with a qualified tutor, or making a study group of peers to help you earn that 1210/1330 or 25/29 score.
For the 100 or 75 service hours required for Florida Bright Scholarships, you have a range of options. The Student Handbook describes these as “a business or governmental internship, work for a nonprofit community service organization, or activities on behalf of a candidate for public office.”
A key reminder here is that you cannot receive payment or school credit for the service work you’re performing in advance of your scholarship application. Make sure these hours are documented and signed by three people: you, a parent or guardian, and someone from the organization you volunteer with.
Beyond the hours themselves, you should also check out this other Bright Futures requirement: “Additionally, the student must identify a social or civic issue or professional area, develop a plan for personal involvement in addressing the issue or learning about the area, and through papers or other presentations, evaluate and reflect upon the experience.” If you aren’t sure where to begin, learn more about the service opportunities in your area, and ask organization leaders, classmates, and even your teachers/counselors about their work in your community.
Grade Point Average
For the Florida Academic Scholar award, the minimum GPA requirement is a 3.5, and for the Florida Medallion Scholar award, the minimum GPA requirement is a 3.0.
This is a weighted GPA requirement — on the weighted scale, Advanced Placement (AP), Dual Enrollment (DE), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses are typically worth a 6.0 for an A (sometimes even 5.3 for an A+), and honors classes are worth a 5.0 which means participating in these courses and earning an A, B, or C average would place most students above the 3.5 minimums. Again, most students are not held back by the GPA requirement but by lacking the test scores.
For your high school coursework, both the FAS and FMS awards require the following high school classes:
- 4 classes in English, with substantial writing in 3 of 4
- 4 classes in Mathematics, each at/above the Algebra I level
- 3 classes in Natural Science FMS , with lab work in 2 of 3
- 3 classes in Social Science
- 2 classes in World Language, in the same language, taken sequentially
If you’re a student who chose to only take three math courses (skipping a course your senior year, for example), you may be in trouble. If you’re hoping to earn a Bright Futures Scholarship, make sure you take 4 English and 4 math courses, even if your high school doesn’t require it.
A typical track may look like Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calc, though many students will also take an AP Statistics or AP Calculus course as a senior. Regardless of your track, having 4 math courses at or above the Algebra I level is necessary if you’d like to receive a Bright Futures Scholarship.
Note: If you’re an AICE or IB student, your guidelines are available on page 5 of the Bright Futures Student Handbook!
Below, find the requirements for qualifying for the FAS and FMS awards.
- You must be a Florida resident and U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen – this is predetermined by your future college. (If you have been found guilty of a felony, you cannot apply unless you were granted clemency by the Governor and Cabinet.)
- You should complete the FFAA (more info below!) no later than August 31st, following your high school graduation.
- You should earn a standard high school diploma or equivalent from a Florida high school, a private school registered with the Florida Department of Education, or a home education program.
- You should have enrolled in a degree/certificate program at an eligible Florida public or private college or university.
- You should be enrolled in at least 6 new credit hours per term – this means you’re attending college as *at least* a part time student, depending on your future school’s coursework requirements.
- If you choose to postpone your education, you should apply within 5 years of graduation to have your award reinstated. Whether this means you’re taking 1 year off between high school and college or a full 5 years, this rule allows you to delay your Bright Futures Scholarship money by up to 5 years, until you’re ready to begin your college education.
How Much Money Do Winners Receive?
Understanding the exact cost of your future education is essential, so we’ve broken down what that 100% FAS award or 75% FMS award really looks like for you. Remember that both FAS and FMS awards run out after 120 credit hours!
- FAS scholars receive $208.69 per credit hour, or $25,042.80 across 120 credit hours/4 years of college.
- For FMS scholars, this breaks down to about $18, 781.20 across 120 credit hours, or $156.51 per credit hour.
- GSV and GSC applicants can find their award amount per specific school/pathway on the Bright Futures Student Handbook, or on the Florida Student Scholarships & Grant Programs website.
It’s important to know that maintaining a college GPA of 3.0 for FAS scholars and a GPA of 2.75 for FMS scholars is necessary to renew the scholarship across all four years. If each year represents 30 credit hours, students must maintain those GPA requirements every year to qualify for the funding again the next year until they have earned their full 120 credit hours.
Florida Private College/University Applicants
For students attending a private college or university in Florida, the FAS and FMS awards can still apply to tuition, but they will not cover the full cost. Here’s what that looks like in action, with the “Enrolled Credit Hours” filled in as 120 and 60 to help you get a sense for your total funding; you can also check out this information from the Bright Scholars program.
|Award/School:||Funding Per Credit Hour||Enrolled Credit Hours||Total Funding|
|FAS 4-year||$211||120||$211 x 120 + $300 = $25,620|
|FAS 2-year||$104||60||$104 x 60 + $300 = $6,540|
|FMS 4-year||$140||120||$140 x 120 + $200 = $17,000|
|FMS 2-year||$70||60||$70 x 60 + $200 = $4,400|
For private school attendees, the minimum GPA requirements are the same!
How To Apply For The Bright Futures Scholarship
As you prepare to apply for a Bright Futures scholarship, the first key step is making an account. You’ll use this portal to submit your documentation.
- To apply for the Bright Futures scholarships, you must submit the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) by August 31 following graduation from high school. Even if you haven’t met the eligibility requirements, The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) encourages you to complete the FFAA anyway – missing the deadline means you cannot receive the scholarships, even if you eventually choose to go out of state!
- Eligibility should be met by your graduation, but the program accepts test scores (ACT/SAT/P.E.R.T) completed through June 30.
- After submitting the FFAA, you’re responsible for tracking the application and award status online, and updating the program about any changes regarding your future school.
- The scholarship renews automatically, assuming you continue to meet the GPA requirements. (You don’t have to submit a new FFAA each year.)
What You Should Submit
- Submit a completed FFAA online no later than August 31!
- Exam scores for tests taken through June 30 are accepted, and submit either by sending your scores to a registered Florida state university when registering for the ACT/SAT, or mailing an official copy in a sealed envelope – more info here.
- For your service hours, this documentation should be submitted to the district home education office. They will certify the hours to FDOE electronically. (Remember, these hours should be completed by graduation.)
- Your counselor should send official transcripts to [email protected]. Unofficial or photocopied transcripts aren’t accepted!
When Will You Find Out If You Received An Award?
Per the official Bright Futures Student Handbook, here’s when you’ll know if you received an award.
Early Evaluations (7th Semester) – “Postings may begin in March. All students whose transcripts are submitted electronically to FDOE for an official early evaluation (based on academic progress in the middle of the last year of high school and test scores for tests taken by January 31) will receive an eligibility or ineligibility determination, with the award status notification posted to their online account. Students cannot lose an award based on early evaluation unless they fail to earn a standard Florida high school diploma from a Florida public or FDOE-registered private high school.”
Final Evaluations (8th Semester) – “Postings may begin in July. All students whose final transcripts are submitted following the student’s last term in high school will receive an award status notification (eligibility or ineligibility determination) posted to their online account.”
Note: remember that this award is automatically granted per a student meeting the requirements! No essays, no interviews – meet the criteria, and you’re almost guaranteed to receive your FAS or FMS money.
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarships are a fantastic opportunity for high school students to move onto the next step without taking on a significant financial burden.
As you prepare to apply, The Bright Futures Student Handbook is your best friend if you come across questions and concerns. And as we say at the start of this article, this really is a ‘no fuss’ opportunity: if you’ve put in the hard work to be accepted into college, you likely qualify for either the Florida Academic Scholar award or the Florida Medallion Scholar award.
Best of luck applying!
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About the Author
Renée Flory is a student at Johns Hopkins University. She scored a 1570 on the SAT, studies professional/creative writing and English literature, and writes novels in her free time!