Bright Futures Changing this Fall

New and returning Bright Futures college students will be required to fill out a federal financial aid form for the first time to receive the merit based scholarship. The form may be the first step in what could be a major change for Bright Futures.

Bright futures abound, but beginning this fall to receive bright futures new and returning students will have fill out a form: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The provision is the first time the state has collected financial data on Bright Futures. Students fear it could be the first step in requiring not only good grades but financial need as well. Miranda Wilhelm is a student from Daytona Beach. “That’s not fair at all; because you work for your GPA to get the money.”

Gabriel Diaz is a student from Miami. “So Bright Futures really helps people like me who aren’t quite exceedingly rich, but not quite, you know very need based, so I think if Bright Futures turned need based that would be terrible.”

Every year that there has been a Bright Futures scholarship, there has been an attempt to make it needs based. Sponsor Senator Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach says she will fight against any attempts to require a needs analysis for the popular scholarships. “We would like to have the data on how many students actually fall into a need based category and how many are not in that need based category.”

We caught up with parents Glenn and Sherry Fell on the FSU campus. They believe their freshman’s good grades are all that should be required. “ I feel if they worked for it, they deserve it.”

But next spring, after lawmakers are armed with new financial information, the effort to make Bright Futures more need based will almost certainly be fought again.

More than 200,000 Florida students receive the scholarship. The law takes affect July 1st.


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  • by Lynne Location: Ft Myers on Sep 5, 2011 at 09:32 AM
    Just goggled this article after receiving college tuition bill. My son junior at FSU with Bright Futures (so far, Pres List four out of four semesters) with small FSU tuition scholarship. We are a one income family with modest retirement savings so don't qualify for FAFSA. All native Floridians and as husband alumnist, son chose FSU. We pay for lodging,food and books each semester, but this semester, must pay a few hundred towards tuition, where there used to be a little left over from disbursement that was put towards books. Who's to say what is to come in the next two years and beyond?? Have a daughter paying her way through local small college (did not have the grade point average for Bright Futures, so that's fair) but just about everyone she knows, is receiving tuition assistance even though many maintain low grade point averages and even don't attend classes. Seems to me, that promises made by the State of Florida to academic scholars, like my son and others, are being broken by Bright Futures under the guise of rising tuition costs. If you don't have a sports scholarship, guess you better get a loan or go outside of Florida to find some of the smaller colleges that will offer full tuition and even living expenses for academic scholars. Should not matter what any family is worth and the new FAFSA requirement reeks of "Big Brother" and "each according to one's need". What's wrong with rewarding the best and the brightest of our kids who have worked hard to maintain high grade point averages with the hopes of obtaining a college degree and becoming a productive citizen of this state? Isn't that what we want? I was around when they started the lottery and the main reason people voted for it was to help with college tuition. If that is no longer the case, I say we get rid of it!! How will all those other factions who have their fingers in this pie, like it then!
  • by Joe Location: New Port Richey on Jul 17, 2011 at 07:46 PM
    I was told this several years ago by a Pasco county school employee that one of the biggest problems they had in reference to the Florida lottery and school budgets is that in Florida unlike neighboring schools is that when the Lottery gives money to the county districts, the county commissioners reallocate money they proportioned for the school budget to other areas. This has always been a sensitive area with me because the LOTTERY boast how much they are giving but all it did is allow the county commissioners to put the money else where and all the Lottery did was subsidize politicians other projects and never really impacted the student with additional resources.
  • by martha Location: panama city on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:51 PM
    By the way...isn't Bright Futures funded by the Florida lottery? Maybe Tallahassee bigwigs want to pocket more of the money? Hmmmm.
  • by Christie Location: Lynn Haven on Jun 15, 2011 at 06:12 AM
    Where is all the Lottery money going? The lottery is what funds this program. We need to find out where else this money is being spent! Years ago everyone that received Bright Futures got a full tution paid scholarship, now you only get money towards credit hours and that leaves quite a balance left to pay. I have 3 children and all have straight A's and work hard, they deserve this academic scholarship, if you have applied for scholarships, you see that there are 1000's of need based scholarships. DO NOT TAKE AWAY THIS ACADEMIC BASED SCHOLARSHIP!
  • by Fed Up Location: PC on Jun 15, 2011 at 04:50 AM
    My daughter also worked hard for her Bright Futures and has slowly watched it being taken away. Just because your parents have jobs shouldn’t mean the children should be ineligible for anything. It is actually a scholarship you have to earn! It’s pretty scary what is happening to the middle class in this country. You’re not eligible for anything. But you sure can pay taxes and watch others who do nothing prosper from it.
  • by Cathy Location: Panama City on Jun 14, 2011 at 08:25 PM
    Jean, Sorry for your disappointment. It will be a let-down for a lot of families, including mine. Our state just doesn't have the money for some of these programs any more. Hopefully it will get better soon with Scott making the necessary changes to get our state fiscally solvent again. I hope your child can get loans that will be deferred until she graduates. She can work too. That is how I got through college. I expect my kids to do the same thing, work and get loans. It worked for me and my husband. We really shouldn't expect government to take care of us. Congratulations on your child doing well in school! All the hard work will serve her well in college. She will make it. There are lots of scholarships available from other sources too. Look for them and good luck to you and your family!
  • by martha Location: panama city on Jun 14, 2011 at 05:41 PM
    Insane! If the students earn this due to their academic performance, then whose business is it how much money their parents make!?! Once again our students who worked so hard for a promised reward have the rug jerked out from under them!
  • by Jean Location: PC on Jun 14, 2011 at 03:19 PM
    BRIGHT FUTURES...My child worked hard to get bright futures but due to the changes in the program she only got half of what she should of. Which means she was let down because what she had worked hard from 9th to 12th to achieve her goal but it didn't happen. IT WAS A MAJOR LET DOWN FOR US ALL....I COULDN'T AFFORD THE DIFFERENCE SO COLLEGE IS OUT RIGHT NOW. TILL MY FINANCES ARE BETTER (I'M A SINGLE PARENT BUT HAS NEVER ASKED FOR ANY ASSISTANCE EXCEPT FOR COLLEGE!)
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