Does Florida Have a Free State Tuition Program for Residents?

by Charity Tober ; Updated April 13, 2018
Group of smiling students at graduation

The state of Florida is one of the few states that offers residents a merit-based scholarship program that covers all or nearly all tuition costs. Florida students with exceptionally high academic achievements can apply for the state's Bright Futures Scholarship program, which pays between 75 percent to 100 percent of tuition costs for residents. These scholarships are funded by monies from the state lottery. Students adopted from Florida foster care facilities or who serve in the national guard also may receive free tuition.

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program features three award levels -- Florida Academic Scholars, Florida Medallion Scholars and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars -- with each level paying a different percentage of tuition costs. Each award level has specific academic and eligibility requirements, award amounts and duration. Students must apply for the program no later than their senior year of high school in order to be considered. The minimum GPA and credit hour requirements must be maintained each year in order to receive funding. Students may receive funding form only one scholarship.

For example, during the 2017-18 academic year, Florida Academic Scholars receive full tuition and fees at the University of Florida, along with an additional $300 for the spring and fall semester. The Florida Medallion Scholars award is $77 per credit hour. Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars must take at least three full credits in a single career/ technical education program to use their scholarship.

Graduate Study

For Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship recipients, free tuition doesn't necessarily end once they receive their baccalaureate degree. They may receive funding for one semester of graduate study up to 15 semester hours, paid at the undergraduate rate. To do so, they must earn their undergraduate degree in seven semesters or less, or fewer than 105 semester hours, with time remaining on their program.

Adoption, Military Benefits

Children adopted from foster care facilities in Florida are eligible for free tuition at any Florida state university, community college or vocational school up until age 28. In addition, residents enrolled in the Florida Army National Guard are eligible to have 100 percent of tuition costs paid at state colleges and universities, as well as Florida public community colleges.

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About the Author

Based in Lake Mary, Fla., Charity Tober writes mainly on finance, career, interior decorating, parenting and weddings. Tober has also self-published two children's picture books. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the University of Florida.

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