Bright Futures

Bright Futures: Back with bigger awards than ever, 2018-19

The 100% of tuition award is finally back!

As a Floridian, you have heard all kinds of things about the Bright Futures program. A well-known and generally well-liked program designed to keep the best and brightest from venturing out of state, the requirements and awards in the Bright Futures scholarship change nearly every year.

This year, the requirements to get – and maintain – the Bright Futures scholarship are tougher than ever, but the reward – up to 100% of tuition for a full course of study – is bigger than ever!

In general, the Bright Futures program is a merit-based scholarship program that rewards students for achieving a mix of good grades, high test scores, and dedication to community service.

The award amount

For the past several years, the Bright Futures award was issued per credit hour – an amount that only covered about 25% to 50% of tuition at public, 4-year universities. But the award levels we all know and love are back! The Bright Futures awards are now awarded as a percentage of tuition at public universities: 100% of tuition for Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) and 75% of tuition for Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS).

Both of these awards are substantial: $18,000 to $26,000 over four years at any public or private Florida university!

For example, here’s the out-of-pocket cost at the University of Florida with and without Bright Futures:

Tuition/fees per credit hour Tuition/fees per year* Tuition/fees to graduate*
Without Bright Futures $213 $6,380 $25,520
With 75% Bright Futures (FMS) $53 $1,595 $6,380
With 100% Bright Futures (FAS) $0 $0 $0
(This excludes any financial aid or additional scholarships, as well as living expenses.)
* Calculated assuming 30 credit hours per year, and 120 credit hours to graduate. Some programs (engineering, architecture, etc.) require more than 120 hours to graduate.

The Bright Futures awards can also be used at any qualifying private 4-year university. At private universities, the award is issued per credit hour at a similar dollar-for-dollar amount as what is offered at the public universities. The student’s cost of attendance to a private university may be higher, though, if tuition is higher at the private university than at a typical 4-year public university.

Here’s the out-of-pocket cost to attend the University of Miami with and without Bright Futures:

Per credit hour Per year Full course of study
Without Bright Futures $1,624 $48,720 $194,880
With lower-level Bright Futures (FMS) $1,466 $43,980 $175,920
With higher-level Bright Futures (FAS) $1,413 $42,390 $169,560
(This excludes any financial aid or additional scholarships – which are often considerable at private universities – as well as living expenses.)

How to qualify

The Florida Academic Scholarship (100% of tuition) and the Florida Medallion Scholarship (75% of tuition) have many overlapping requirements, with the FAS requiring an extra boost on top of the strong college preparatory work required for the FMS.

  • Standardized Test Scores

Florida Academic Scholarship (100% tuition): SAT 1290 or ACT 29

Florida Medallion Scholarship (75% tuition): SAT 1170 or ACT 26

The test can be taken through July of the high school graduation year (for Spring graduates). Bright Futures does not consider the essay score on either test. Additionally, both the SAT and the ACT will be superscored to determine eligibility.

“Superscored”: The highest score in each of the test sections (e.g., Math, Reading, Science) across multiple test dates are combined to calculate the composite score used for scholarship eligibility.

While the GPA and community service requirements are within reach for many students, the State of Florida has significantly restricted access to the Bright Futures scholarship through their insanely high test score requirements.

The SAT score required for the Florida Academic Scholarship – 1290 – is only achieved by test-takers in the top 10% of students nationwide, and the Medallion’s 1170 represents approximately the top 23% of high school seniors. The Florida Academic Scholar ACT score – 29 – is only achieved by 8% of students testing across the country, and the Medallion’s 26 is reached by 18% of high school seniors. Meeting the Bright Futures test score requirement is a considerable task for even the best student!

  • Course Requirements

English Math* Natural Sciences* Social Sciences World Language*
4 years 4 years 3 years 3 years 2 years
    * 4 years of Mathematics at or above Algebra I; Natural Sciences, at least two years with lab; World Language, two years in the SAME language
    The World Language requirement can alternatively be satisfied by passing a language placement exam when you enter university. This option is designed for bilingual students who do not take a language class in high school.
  • GPA, the “weighted core”

Florida Academic Scholarship (100% tuition): 3.5 weighted core GPA

Florida Medallion Scholarship (75% tuition): 3.0 weighted core GPA

Bright Futures uses the weighted GPA for the 16 courses listed above, only. It will not include any other grades. Bright Futures only awards 0.5 additional credit per year of AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment, the same as for Honors and Pre-IB classes. It does NOT award the more typical 1.0 extra credit for AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment classes that is common to the traditional ‘weighted GPA’ calculations. If you are on the margin, calculate this GPA carefully or use an automatic eligibility checker, like Florida Shines.

In addition, if you have more than the required number of classes (for example, 4 years of social studies) you can choose to include only the ones you received the highest grades in OR raise your Bright Futures average with the inclusion of up to two additional classes in the categories above or at the IB or AP level (for example, AP Art History). Please contact a guidance counselor (or me!) with any GPA questions.

  • Community Service

Florida Academic Scholars (100% tuition): 100 hours

Florida Medallion Scholars (75% tuition): 75 hours

Some high schools (and the IB program) require community service as a graduation requirement and the appropriate documentation is submitted directly by the school.

Students attending schools that do not have a mandatory service program should contact the guidance counselor for the appropriate forms and guidelines. The hours report must be submitted by the school to the school board and verified in order to be admissible for Bright Futures. Service cannot be rendered for any family member, including all step- relations; otherwise, it is broadly defined and opportunities abound in the local community.

The deadline to meet these requirements and apply for the Bright Futures scholarships is August 31 of the graduation year.