As this school year comes to a close, seniors are finalizing their decisions about where they are going to college, as well as weighing the pros and cons of different schools. A lot of students have the mindset that they want to go far away for college, especially if they spend their whole life living in one place. However, with opportunities like the Bright Futures scholarship program, this mindset is shifted to be more accepting of staying in Florida when considering the economic benefits.

The Bright Futures scholarship program offers college students the opportunity to get reduced or even free tuition to Florida colleges based on a their GPA, SAT or ACT score, and community service hours. In order to receive full tuition, students need to have a 3.5 weighted GPA, a 1290 SAT or 29 ACT score and 100 community service hours. This program has encouraged a lot of students who qualify for the top tier or second tier to stay in Florida, rather than travel to another state for school.

“Bright Futures was really important to my choice of Florida State University, because I want to pay as little as possible for my undergraduate. I also qualified for the full tuition, so I definitely couldn’t turn that down. Otherwise I may have been more likely to go out of state,” said senior Gina Passarella.

Passarella had always considered going out of state, and applied to Rutgers University as well as Drexel University, the colleges that her parents attended. While she liked both of those schools, she felt that the cost of attending a Florida school with the Bright Futures scholarship was too much of a steal to attend either one. She is attending Florida State University in the fall and likely majoring in geology.

While more and more students are choosing Florida schools due to the free tuition ensured by Bright Futures, some students still decide to cross the state border for college. Senior Kiley Beckwith is attending University of Colorado Boulder to study aerospace engineering.

“I knew that what I wanted to do was very specific, and while some Florida schools offer decent programs for it, CU Boulder is one of the best schools for aerospace engineering. I picked CU because there is a great deal of opportunities and job options as a graduate, with 92 percent of graduates employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation,” said Beckwith.

While the Bright Futures scholarship is generous, Beckwith was offered scholarships from CU, and felt that it wasn’t enough to make her stay, especially since she knew what it was she wanted to do.
The overall trend shows more and more students are staying in state for college. According to the Orlando Sentinel, FSU admissions alone went up 18 percent in number of Florida students applying in 2018. As more students reap the benefits of the program, less and less students may dream of  going out of state, and aspire to become a gator, seminole or bull.



Grace Becker // News Editor

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