Your Future's So Bright
I started out my day by doing a happy dance in front of my home computer before heading out to the office. I simply couldn’t wait to find out my students’ June ACT scores, and I was waiting for one score in particular. It was her third try at reaching the score she needed to qualify for the Bright Futures Scholarship at the Florida Medallion level – and she did it!
My practice does not include test prep – I leave that to the test prep experts – but my business does involve test planning, strategy, and sometimes a little extra prodding. Here in Florida, an improved score can lead to thousands of scholarship dollars over the course of a college education, and sometimes taking the test one more time can lead to that improved score. The generous Bright Futures Scholarship program includes the Gold Seal CAPE Scholarship, Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship, the Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS), and the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS), all awarded to Florida high school seniors who earn minimum requirements for ACT or SAT scores, coursework, GPA, and community service hours. The up-to-date eligibility requirements can be found at this link: http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/ssfad/bf/.
If you are a rising high school senior, now is the time to assess your Bright Futures eligibility:
The link for the Bright Futures Scholarship Eligibility Evaluation is: https://www.floridashines.org/CCRE/hs_accessbf.jsp. You will input your student number and a summary of course requirements, GPA requirements, test scores, and missing achievements is all right there, in one place. If you don’t see all of your courses or grades, or if your test scores are not up to date, make note and plan to ask your guidance counselor about the discrepancies.
It is important to note that Bright Futures does not use the same formula to calculate GPA that most schools and districts use. Their formula adds .5 credit weight to honors, DE, AP, IB, AICE – there is no extra weight added beyond this .5 credit, regardless of the course level. What this means for most students is that their weighted GPA figured by the district is significantly higher than the one calculated for Bright Futures.
The Bright Futures program super-scores the SAT and they super-score the ACT. That's a key distinction to know as you work towards meeting those test score minimums! At the moment (be sure to keep an eye on any legislative changes), the test minimums are ACT 26 (FMS), ACT 29 (FAS), SAT 1170 (FMS), and 1290 (FAS).
The one item that is not on the eligibility evaluation summary is the number of community service hours earned. Under the current guidelines, the Florida Medallion Scholarship requires a minimum of 75 hours and the Florida Academic Scholarship requires a minimum of 100 hours. The summertime is the perfect time to serve your community if you are still looking for hours! Be sure to follow your school’s community service policy for pre-approval prior to your work. For example, OCPS implemented a new community service procedure at the start of last year, requiring the completion of the Community Service Plan before beginning the service hours. If you are unsure of what you need to do, I suggest looking on your school’s website for specifics.
Now that you know where you stand with regard to this scholarship program, you know what your goals are for the next year, and what you can do this summer toward meeting those goals. My hope is that your summer also includes relaxing and enjoying our great state of Florida!