Big changes for Bright Futures

Guidance counselors Stacey Swihart and Judy Clark talk with parents about the changes to the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program. (Photo: Ellis)

The Florida Bright Futures scholarship changes often, but this year the changes came as a bit of a surprise to students.

The Florida Legislative branch often makes slight improvements to Bright Futures scholarship program, and this year 2011-12 students have even more to digest. There are three scholarships that can be acquired. These are the Florida Academic Scholars Award (FAS), the Florida Medallion Scholars Award (FMS), and the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award (GSV). Sixteen college prep credits are now required for the FAS and FMS, and 16 core credits are needed for the GSV. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now an annual requirement.

Although the Bright Futures scholarship changes regularly, the revisions still gave students a start.

“I think it’s a surprise to a lot of students,” said guidance counselor Beth Evans.  “That’s why we thought it’s important to have a meeting.”

There’s no doubt that these changes will make attaining this scholarship a more demanding aspiration.

“Yes, it will be more difficult, because the state increased the SAT requirement for both the FAS and FMS Bright Futures scholarships. They also increased the community service hours needed for the FAS, and now they require service hours for FMS, when in the past they did not,” said parent Edward Daly.

On this, Daly is dead on. To accomplish the FAS, a student needs 100 service hours and a combined SAT score of 1270 and an ACT of 28; the FMS requires 75 service hours, a combined SAT score of 980 and an ACT of 21. The GSV demands 30 service hours and a specific minimum score on both the SAT and the ACT.

Lecanto administrators try to give as much material on the Bright Futures scholarships as possible.

“There’s a wealth of information on the guidance tab at the Lecanto website,” said guidance department head Stacey Swihart.

Despite the unexpectedness of this situation, students are taking the changes as a challenge, not an obstacle.

“I think it’s going to be harder [to earn the scholarship], but I don’t think it’s going to be unreachable,” said freshman Taylor Weaver.