On the Bright Side

Marissa Scalise, Staff Writer

Attending college next fall has seniors concerned with test scores, club involvement and well-written essays. But one of the biggest challenges for students nationwide throughout the admissions process is determining how they will pay for their education. 

In Florida, the Bright Futures Scholarship is offered to reward students with varying percentages of their tuition at an in-state university based upon academic performance. 

This year, the scholarship is guaranteed to rising college freshmen for all four years of college, as long as they continue to maintain acceptable academic standing, with a 3.0 GPA and a specified number of credit hours per semester, for the top tier scholarship recipients. 

“Legislators made the changes that were done last year permanent, meaning that 100 percent truly means 100 percent and the 75 percent truly means 75 percent [of tuition], so medallion scholars went up to $150 a credit hour and the academic scholars is $200 a credit hour,” said Mike Drake, the school’s test administrator. 

This change influenced many seniors’ decisions when applying to colleges and deciding where to attend. 

“The money played a huge factor into where I applied to because I knew that I was going to stay in state even if I did get into colleges out of state,” senior Catherine Tenbusch said. “It was really exciting that they made it for all four years because now a lot of stress will be taken off my shoulders.”

Despite the changes to the Bright Futures Scholarship policy that have occurred in the past due to economic recessions and other political decisions, the top-tier of the scholarship will now pay for full tuition at in-state universities as well as $300 for per semester for other educational expenses. 

“The money from Bright Futures definitely influenced where I wanted to attend post -secondary education,” senior Jared Hayes said. “My main goal was to graduate from college with as little debt as possible. With this goal in mind, I was selective about where I applied. I applied to the majority of in-state schools because they were significantly cheaper.”

A university education is not only an opportunity to pursue one’s goals, interests and a greater expanse of knowledge, but also an investment.

Bright Futures makes such an impact because it influences students’ ability to balance their passions and aspirations with the value of the college they aim to attend.

“As a prospective college athlete, I was looking at both in-state and out-of-state schools,” senior Shelby McKeever said. “The only university in which I applied to was private; however, thankfully they still honor the Bright Futures scholarship. It is becoming more affordable for students to study at an in-state university and hopefully this will encourage more students to pursue a post-secondary education.”