First the changes (then my commentary).
- All students who wish to qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship MUST complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, even if they aren’t seeking federal financial aid.
- Starting with the 2011-12 high school year, graduates will be required to do more community service hours. To qualify for a Florida Academic Scholars, you will need 100 hours instead of 75 hours, Florida Medallion Scholars will need 75 hours, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars will need 30 hours.
- Test scores will also change for Florida Medallion Scholars who graduate in the 2013-14 school year. Requirements have gone from 1050 on the SAT to 1170, and from 23 to 26 on the ACT
You can read more about the new legislative requirements at the official Bright Futures Website.
Regarding the changes to Bright Futures, my position has been and remains as follows:
Bright Futures and Florida Pre-paid do not in and of themselves constitute a sound college strategy. First, admissions to a quality FL State College is not guaranteed. In fact, college acceptance rates this past year for in-state students were the lowest ever… and you can expect that trend to continue as State University Officials look to out-of-state students to boost their total net tuition revenue. Second, both programs represent only a very small portion of the financial ‘inducements’ available to students – and with proper and integrated planning – you may find that so-called pricier private options are actually far less expensive and offer better academic preparation than our in-state system. And finally, no matter which school your child ends up attending, the government will expect you to pay your fair share towards the cost of college. They call this your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and it is derived from your responses on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is the minimum amount of money any school will expect you to pay. AND most importantly, it is a number that you can ‘manage’ with proper and ADVANCE planning.
If you haven’t done a FAFSA – and still expect your child to qualify for a Bright Futures award this school year (or in the future), you should attend my workshop on June 23rd where I will teach you the rules, loopholes, and landmines behind the Title IV Financial Aid Regulations (that are used to determine your EFC). Know these rules, you win. Stay in the dark and you could sacrifice thousands of dollars in Bright Futures, not to mention the $150b available in Institutional scholarships and Federal grants that you would have otherwise qualified for.
I will also show you how to help your child pick other schools that meet his or her academic and social aspirations, AND have the ability to offer you a significant discount. The difference in the pricing and discounting among similar schools is often substantial and should be the chief driver of your admissions strategy.
Anyone who has college-bound or college students at home should attend this class.