Florida high school students can earn money toward their post-secondary education with the state's Bright Futures Scholarship program. Created in 1997, this program rewards students who displayed academic success in high school with full or partial scholarships to cover their college tuition. Students, however, must attend college in the state of Florida. In order to take advantage of their Bright Futures benefits, students have to apply for the award.
In order to take advantage of the Bright Futures benefits, Florida students have to apply for the award during their senior year of high school. High school seniors should submit the Initial Student Florida Financial Aid Application, which is available online, after Dec. 1 of their senior year and before graduation. Submitting the application at this time ensures that the state will process the student's information before his first semester at a Florida college or university.
In order to complete the Initial Student Florida Financial Aid Application, students should have biographical information on hand. They will need to enter their name, address and Social Security number. Students also need to give permission for their high school to release their GPA to the state for review. Once they submit their online application, students should write down their user ID and PIN so that they can check their application status or update their contact information.
Bright Futures scholarships come in varied amounts for different groups of students. Students with a 3.5 cumulative, weighted GPA and an SAT score of 1270 or ACT score of 28 qualify for the Florida Academic Scholars Award, which pays $125 a credit at a four-year Florida institution. The highest achieving high school student in each Florida district receives the designation as an Academic Top Scholar, which comes with an additional $53 per credit hour. Students with a 3.0 cumulative, weighted GPA and an SAT score of 970 or ACT score of 20 are Florida Medallion Scholars and receive $94 a credit hour at a four-year state school. Finally, students identified as Gold Seal Vocational Scholars must have a 3.0 weighted GPA with a 3.5 GPA in at least three career or vocational high school courses as well as minimum SAT or ACT scores. These students receive $94 a credit hour at a four-year state school.
Some students who do not apply for the Bright Futures scholarship during their senior year have other opportunities to apply. If the student chooses to attend an out-of-state school but returns to a Florida school within three years, she can apply to reinstate her Bright Futures Scholarship. Similarly, any students enrolling in the military can use the award within a three-year window of high-school graduation. If a student's college GPA drops below the minimum 3.0, he can reapply for Bright Futures when his GPA meets the minimum.