New requirements for Bright Future: a wrap-up
As we told you in today's paper, colleges are getting inundated with calls about what's happening with the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. We know that news of the changes, enacted by the Legislature in their spring session, may have taken awhile to get to you, so here's a break-down of what you should know:
- FAFSA: Anybody who plans on getting most any form of financial aid for the 2011-2012 academic year, INCLUDING Bright Futures, has to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can find it here. Any student who plans to get federal aid during the summer 2011 term must fill out the form by today. But remember, Bright Futures is not dispersed during summer (with one exception detailed below). For fall and spring semesters, FAFSA only provides a deadline of June 30, 2012 to encompass that whole school year. BUT Bright Futures awards will have already been doled out by then, so check with your university for specific disbursement deadlines you should meet.
- Community Service Hours: It used to be that only students whose grades made them eligible for the the highest Bright Futures award, Florida Academic Scholars, were required to obtain community service hours -- 75 of them, to be exact. Beginning with 2011-12 high school graduates, those students will have to get 100 hours. Students who qualify for the next-tier award, the Florida Medallion Scholars, need 75 hours, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholar award recipients need 30 hours. Remember, that's for high school seniors who will graduate next spring, in 2012.
- There is one exception to summer Bright Futures disbursement. The University of Florida is gearing up to accept a new cohort of students who will only be allowed to take classes on campus during summer and spring semesters. That group will be called the "Innovation Academy," and will come to campus in the 2012-13 academic year. So far, they will be the only students in Florida's public university system whose tuition is covered by Bright Futures during summer.
For more information about Bright Futures, including more detail on all these changes, check out the scholarship program's web site here.