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If you live in Florida — or are thinking of relocating — the Sunshine State has several prestigious colleges and universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of Florida and Rollins College.
Higher education is less expensive in Florida than in most other states. The state also operates several robust financial aid programs, such as the Bright Futures scholarship program, that can make college more affordable for residents.
The cost of education in Florida
Florida’s education system includes 40 public colleges and universities. There are also at least 30 private, non-profit schools throughout the state.
Generally, a college education in Florida is cheaper than the national average. Here’s how much you can expect each year of your degree to cost at different types of institutions, based on 2020-21 average tuition rates as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics:
Public four-year, in-state: Nationally, the average cost of a public, in-state university was $21,337 per year. In Florida, the cost was $15,543 per year — a difference of almost $6,000.
Private non-profit: Private colleges and universities are usually more expensive than public schools. The average cost of a year at a private school in Florida was $28,860, about $4,500 less than the national average.
Community college: The average cost of attending a two-year school was $3,501 per year at the national level. In Florida, the average cost was $2,506 per year, nearly $1,000 less.
Financial aid options in Florida
To qualify for state-based financial aid, you must establish residency. For the purposes of in-state tuition rates and other state aid, you or your parents must live in Florida for at least 12 consecutive months before the first day of the term.
Currently, undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students can qualify for in-state tuition rates at Florida public colleges and universities if they meet the following criteria:
Attend a secondary school in Florida for at least three consecutive years before graduating.
Enroll in a Florida postsecondary institution within 24 months of graduating from high school.
Submit an official Florida high school transcript as evidence of attendance and completion.
However, the 2014 law that allowed those students to qualify for in-state tuition is facing challenges. Current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed repealing the measure, so this benefit may not be available in the future.
Laws, residency requirements and financial aid programs can change. Visit the Florida Student Scholarships and Grants Programs website for the most current details.
If you are a Florida resident, you may qualify for one or more of the following financial aid programs:
Student loan repayment assistance.
Florida 529 plans
529 plans are tools to save for a child’s future education. In Florida, there are two programs:
Prepaid tuition plan: Florida Prepaid College Plans allow you to purchase college credits for future use at today’s prices. The credits can be used in-state or out, and the child can attend public or private schools. The funds are available for up to 10 years after the child’s projected high school graduation date, and plans start at $45 per month. There’s also a $50 application fee.
529 college savings plan: The Florida 529 Savings Plan is an investment account you can use to save for a child’s education. You can choose from a range of investment options to grow your contributions tax-free as long as you use the money to pay for eligible education expenses.
While some states offer special benefits, such as state account contributions or tax credits, Florida does not provide the same incentives or benefits.
Florida in-state tuition
Florida participates in the Academic Common Market. This network allows resident students to attend school in other states and pay in-state tuition rates. Through the network, students can qualify for in-state tuition at eligible programs in the following states:
Not all schools or programs qualify, so talk to your selected school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for in-state rates.
Grants, as a form of gift aid, don’t need to be repaid, and they’re typically awarded based on financial need. Florida has three state grant programs:
First Generation Matching Grant Program
The First Generation Matching Grant Program is for Florida undergraduate students with substantial financial need and whose parents did not earn a college degree. Award amounts vary by year and the needs of the student.
Florida Student Assistance Grant Program
Resident undergraduate students may qualify for the Florida Student Assistance Grant Program. The award amount varies by year, but the minimum is $200.
José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund
The José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund is a need-based grant for students of Hispanic origin with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher. Eligible students will receive up to $2,000 per academic year.
Students from Florida may qualify for one of nine scholarships.
Bright Futures Scholarship Program
Florida’s best-known and most valuable scholarship is the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Through Bright Futures, students can qualify for an award for as much as 100% of college tuition and fees.
To qualify, students must be Florida residents, earn a Florida high school diploma or its equivalent, and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in high school. Students must also complete volunteer service or paid work hours to qualify for the Bright Futures program.
Benacquisto Scholarship Program
The Benacquisto Scholarship Program is a merit-based award for high school graduates who achieved National Merit Scholar status. The award amount varies, but it can cover the total cost of attendance at participating schools, minus other financial aid.
Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program
The Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program is both merit-based and need-based. Each year, up to 50 eligible students can qualify for financial assistance that covers up to 100% of the credit hours required for degree or certificate programs. To qualify for the scholarship, students must be farmworkers or the children of farmworkers.
Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship
As a merit- and need-based scholarship, the Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship provides up to $3,000 in financial aid to academically strong students with financial need. To qualify, students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and enroll at Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, Florida A&M University or Florida Memorial University.
Minority Teacher Education Scholars program
Administered by the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, the Minority Teacher Education Scholars program is a performance-based scholarship for African American, Hispanic American, Asian American and Native American students. Eligible students can receive up to $4,000 per year in financial assistance.
Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program
Students who are direct descendants of the victims of the Ocoee Election Day Riots of November 1920 or are current African American residents of Ocoee are eligible for the Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program. Eligible students will receive up to $6,100 per year in financial aid.
Rosewood Family Scholarship
The Rosewood Massacre occurred in 1923. Students who are direct descendants of Rosewood families affected by those events can qualify for the Rosewood Family Scholarship. Qualifying students will receive up to $6,100.
Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans
This award is for the children or spouses of deceased or disabled military veterans who were Florida residents. Eligible students can receive funding for up to 110% of the required credit hours for an initial baccalaureate degree or certificate program.
William L. Boyd, IV Effective Access to Student Education Program
The William L. Boyd, IV Effective Access to Student Education Program is a scholarship for students attending a private, non-profit school in Florida. The student must be enrolled in a program other than theology or divinity, and award amounts vary by year.
Student loan repayment programs in Florida
If you have student loans and live and work in Florida, you may be eligible for help from the state in repaying your loans. Florida has programs for attorneys and health care workers who will repay a portion of your debt if you complete a service obligation in a high-need area. The following loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) are available:
Florida Bar Foundation
The Florida Bar Foundation designed its LRAP to encourage attorneys to work for legal aid organizations. Under the terms of the LRAP, eligible lawyers can receive up to $5,000 per calendar year to repay federal or private student loans.
Florida John R. Justice
Florida’s John R. Justice LRAP provides repayment benefits to state and federal public defenders and state prosecutors who commit to remaining as defenders or prosecutors for at least three years. Participants in the program can receive up to $10,000 in loan repayment assistance per year, up to a maximum of $60,000. This program will only repay federal student loans; borrowers with private student loans aren’t eligible.
Florida Reimbursement Assistance for Medical Education program
The goal of the FRAME program is to recruit and retain medical professionals to practice in underserved areas. Through the program, nurses, physicians and physician assistants can receive assistance with their student loans. Award amounts vary by profession, but eligible borrowers can receive up to $20,000 per year in student loan repayment benefits. Federal and private student loans can be repaid through FRAME.
Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program
The Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program provides up to $4,000 annually in loan forgiveness to nurses working full time at a designated site. Examples include public schools, state-operated medical and health care facilities, and county health departments.
Nurses can participate in the program for up to four years. The program will repay federal and private student loans.
How to apply for financial aid in Florida
Florida has several financial aid programs, including gift aid in the form of grants and scholarships. To ensure you get all of the aid you’re eligible for, follow these steps:
Fill out the FAFSA: Need-based programs will determine your financial need based on the information that you submit with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can take less than an hour to complete. Fill it out online at FAFSA.gov.
Look up deadlines: Although Florida’s FAFSA deadline is in mid-May, some scholarship or grant programs may have different deadlines and requirements. Review the application materials of each program carefully, and make a note of any deadlines.
Create an account with Florida’s Office of Student Financial Assistance: Some of Florida’s programs require you to have a student account with the Office of Student Financial Assistance. It’s free to create an account, and you can open one at FloridaStudentFinancialAidSG.org.
Fill out the Florida Financial Aid Application: Some grant and scholarship programs require the Florida Financial Aid Application as well as the FAFSA. You must have a student account with the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Once your account is created, you can access and fill out the application.
Apply for specific programs: Some programs, such as the Benacquisto Scholarship Program or the Minority Teacher Education Scholars program, require separate applications or additional materials. Review each program's eligibility requirements online so you can fulfill the application requirements.
Frequently asked questions
Is Florida Bright Futures based on income?
Is Florida Bright Futures based on income?
No, Bright Futures scholarships are not awarded based on your family’s income. In fact, the FAFSA isn’t required at all. Eligibility is determined by your residency, grades, standardized test scores, and volunteer or paid work hours.
Are undocumented or DACA students eligible for Florida in-state tuition?
Are undocumented or DACA students eligible for Florida in-state tuition?
Currently, undocumented and DACA students are eligible for in-state tuition rates under Florida House Bill (H.B.) 851, which was passed into law in 2014.
Can Florida residents get help completing the FAFSA?
Can Florida residents get help completing the FAFSA?
Yes. Visit the Florida College Access Network for free resources, including detailed videos and tutorials, that can help you fill out the required forms to get the maximum amount of financial aid possible.
What is the FAFSA deadline for Florida?
What is the FAFSA deadline for Florida?
Florida’s FAFSA deadline for the 2023–24 academic year was May 15, 2023. The application typically opens to students on Oct. 1 each year, so it’s a good idea to fill it out as soon as possible. If you missed this deadline, you can still complete the FAFSA for federal aid through Jun. 30, 2024.
Student loans/financial concerns
60% of U.S. college students worry about not having enough money to pay for their studies. 70% of U.S. students are stressed about their financial health. To afford tuition, 43% of full-time and 81% of part-time American students work during their off-study hours.
That's why asking the expected college loan debt upon graduating is a fair question for college families to ask of financial aid – and the financial aid office has a responsibility to answer it, just like a mortgage lender or auto dealer would have to do.How do you realistically pay for college? ›
- Fill out the FAFSA. ...
- Search for scholarships. ...
- Choose an affordable school. ...
- Use grants if you qualify. ...
- Get a work-study job. ...
- Work for an employer that pays for college.
- Attend a Public School as an In-State Student. ...
- Attend Community College. ...
- Attend Online College. ...
- Attend a No-Loan College. ...
- Save With a 529 Plan. ...
- Earn Scholarships. ...
- Earn Grants. ...
- Participate in a Work-Study Program.
CHICAGO, May 3, 2022 — Americans believe cost is the primary reason people do not go to college, according to a new NORC survey. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe people do not attend college because they cannot afford it.What percent of American parents pay for college? ›
According to the oft-cited Sallie Mae study “How America Pays for College,” 77% of American families used parent income and savings to pay for some of their kid's college expenses. Another 18% of parents use borrowed funds to pay for some portion of their child's higher education.What are 3 ways you pay for college if you do not have any money? ›
- Apply for scholarships.
- Apply for financial aid and grants.
- Consider going to community college or trade school first.
- Negotiate with the college for more financial aid.
- Get a work-study job.
- Trim your expenses.
- Take out federal student loans.
84% say the institution a candidate attended is a 'very important' or 'important' factor. 71% are more likely to move forward with a candidate who attended a top-tier school. 66% are more likely to move forward with a candidate who attended their own alma mater.Do colleges give more money if you ask? ›
Yes, financial aid is negotiable. “There is very little downside to asking, so you might as well make the request,” says Shannon Vasconcelos, a college finance educator at College Coach. She estimates that negotiations are successful in about half of the cases she's seen, so it's worthwhile to put the effort in.How to afford college in your 30s? ›
- Fill out the FAFSA. ...
- Contact your school's financial aid office. ...
- Apply to scholarships and grants. ...
- Consider student loans. ...
- Take advantage of tax breaks for continuing education. ...
- Community colleges. ...
- Four-year on-campus college. ...
- Nontraditional classes.
Parental financial support can send a message about the importance of education and inspire a student to work harder. In addition, these experts suggest that paying for a child's education is an investment in a child's future — giving them a shot at better career options.What is the rule of thumb for student loans? ›
As a rule of thumb, try to keep your monthly student loan payment around 10 percent of your projected after-tax income your first year out of school. For example, if your take-home pay is $2,800 a month, then your student loan payments shouldn't exceed $280.What happens if you never pay college debt? ›
You'll lose money.
The federal government can use the Treasury Offset Program to garnish your wages, take your tax refund, and offset your Social Security payments to repay defaulted loans. Private lenders must get a court order before grabbing a piece of your paycheck or putting a lien on your bank account or house.
- Choose a More Affordable College. ...
- Work While in School. ...
- Choose a College That Is Close to Home. ...
- Consider a College Where Your Parents Attended or Where They Work. ...
- Consider Majoring in a STEM Degree. ...
- Apply for as Many Scholarships as You Can. ...
- Find an Employer Who Will Pay Your Tuition.
While financial issues are probably the most common reason for dropping out of college, every student has their own reasons. Some unfortunately have family issues, a lack of support, or unexpected medical problems that are beyond their control.What is the average income of US citizens without a college degree? ›
|Education Level||Average Income|
|Less than 9th grade||$26,293|
|9th to 12th grade, no diploma||$27,987|
|High school graduate (includes equivalency)||$39,976|
|Some college, no degree||$48,555|
As of 2021, nearly 40% of adults who went to college regret their choice of major, according to a Federal Reserve survey.How many students go broke after college? ›
38% of College Students Drop Out Because of Finances – How to Lower That Number. The benefits of getting a college degree are sound.How do most parents pay for college? ›
Most families pay for college using some combination of savings, income and financial aid. Financial aid is money you receive to help cover college costs. Some financial aid, like grants and scholarships, doesn't need to be repaid.What is the average salary of parents in the US? ›
Indeed, median family income of married-couple families with children was about $101,560 in 2021, whereas their single-father counterparts had median total family income of $50,942 and single-mother counterparts had just $32,586 (U.S. Census Bureau 2021).
If you're a dependent student, the FAFSA will attempt to measure your family's financial strength to determine your expected family contribution. Therefore, your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as funds collected through unemployment or Social Security) should be entered into the FAFSA.Which money to pay for college will you never pay back? ›
There are several different types of financial aid for college. Some of these are free, while others need to be paid back with interest. Scholarships, grants, and work study are the three main financial aid types that don't need to be paid back.How do people pay for college without loans? ›
Apply for scholarships.
Scholarships are one of your family's most powerful tools in the journey to cover school without loans because they're funds you earn and never have to pay back.
- Get Federal Student Loans as an Independent Student. ...
- Submit the FAFSA Under Special Circumstances. ...
- Find Another Adult to Co-sign a Student Loan. ...
- Look for Lenders That Don't Require Co-signers.
There's a reason you're required to put the name of the college you attended on your resume and job application. Despite what you may read to the contrary, most employers do care about where you went to school for your degree.What percent of income do colleges expect you to pay? ›
The number you get represents your “net income,” and you'll be expected to pay about 50% of it towards college. If you're an independent student with dependents other than your spouse, your EFC is calculated yet a third way.Can employers see what college you went to? ›
Sometimes, a hiring manager may ask you to present your diploma, so they can keep a copy of it in your file. Other applications can require you to submit or order a sealed transcript. Another way a hiring manager may authenticate your education is by contacting the schools or universities that you attended.How do I convince colleges to give me more money? ›
If it's a needs-based appeal, contact the financial aid office to ask for more aid. If it's a merit-based appeal, contact the enrollment or admissions office. Explain that you want to initiate a Professional Judgement Review (or Special Circumstances Review, as some schools call it).What do you say when asking for financial assistance? ›
In your message asking for financial assistance, clearly explain what has led you to your current position. In addition to explaining the financial impact of your situation, remember to explain how this rough patch is affecting your emotional well-being.What makes the most money right out of college? ›
- Software engineer.
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist.
More Than 3 in 4 Adults Say It Would Be Difficult to Afford a College Education.What is the maximum FAFSA aid? ›
Independent undergraduate students: $57,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans (no more than $23,000 in subsidized loans). Dependent undergraduates whose parents are denied a parent PLUS loan also qualify for this maximum. Graduate and professional students: $138,500 in unsubsidized loans.What is the income limit for FAFSA 2023? ›
The FAFSA has no income limits, so you should fill this form out even if you think your family earns too much to qualify for federal aid.What if my parents don't want to pay for college? ›
If your parents or guardians refuse to pay for college, your best options may be to file the FAFSA as an independent. Independent filers are not required to include information about their parents' income or assets. As a result, your EFC will be very low and you will probably get a generous financial aid offer.How do people afford college without parents help? ›
If you are paying for college without a parent, there are two main types of federal student loans to consider: Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans are federal student loans available to students with financial need.How much do most parents have saved for college? ›
Amount Parents Have Saved for College
Of those that had, just over 30% had saved $10,000 or less, 25% had saved between $10,000 and $30,000, and about 40% had saved more than $30,000.
Biden's overall plan to forgive federal student debt is estimated to cost over $400 billion. The administration has proposed discharging up to $10,000 in debt for those earning less than $125,000 a year or couples who file taxes jointly and earn less than $250,000 annually.Is 50k in student loans a lot? ›
With $50,000 in student loan debt, your monthly payments could be quite expensive. Depending on how much debt you have and your interest rate, your payments will likely be about $500 per month or more.What is the 5% rule for student loans? ›
Under the new plan, income-driven repayment for undergraduate loans would be set at 5% of discretionary income. This means, on top of the lowered repayment amount based on the change in discretionary income calculations, borrowers with undergraduate loans will pay much less.Does college debt go away after 7 years? ›
Both federal and private student loans fall off your credit report about seven years after your last payment or date of default. You default after nine months of nonpayment for federal student loans, and you're not in deferment or forbearance.
Paying off student loans early means you may not receive that tax deduction down the road. You shouldn't keep your loans around just for the tax deduction, but if you have other things to do with your money, it's nice to know that your student loans aren't such a huge resource drain.Do student loans get forgiven after 25 years? ›
Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years (if all loans were taken out for undergraduate study) or 25 years (if any loans were taken out for graduate or professional study).Is my wife responsible for my student loans? ›
Marriage does not make you responsible for student loan debt your spouse incurred before you tied the knot. Each spouse remains responsible for the debt they borrowed to pay for school. Even if you live in a community property state, premarital debt is considered separate property.How can I get my college debt erased? ›
PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.What year do the most people drop out of college? ›
Most people who drop out of college are first-year students. On average, 24.1% of first-time first-year students leave college. The percentage of students who drop out of two-year institutions in the first year is 39%, while 18.4% of those who enroll in 4-year institutions do the same.What percentage of college dropouts are successful? ›
This research emphasizes that the successful dropout entrepreneur is not a pervasive phenomenon. So, what percentage of college dropouts are successful? Based on these numbers, the college dropout success rate is only at around 6%.What are the two biggest causes of students dropping out? ›
Academic difficulties and the family's economic needs are two of the most common reasons kids drop out of school.What percentage of college students worry about money? ›
The Ohio State University's National Student Financial Wellness Study found that 72 percent of college students experience financial stress stemming from the fear of being unable to meet tuition costs (60 percent) and meet monthly expenses (50 percent).How many college students worry about money? ›
Nearly all of us have worried about money at some point or another. College students, who often have limited income paired with high expenses, are no exception. In fact, a recent survey by the Ohio State University found that 74% of college students worry about their finances.How many people struggle with paying for college? ›
More Than 3 in 4 Americans Believe College Is Difficult to Afford.
As Paul Tough reports for New York Times Magazine, 89% of students don't pay full price, and giving students a break has caused some colleges to operate at a loss.What percent of students regret going to college? ›
Despite wide differences in levels of regret when it comes to majors, the vast majority of respondents were glad they went to school. Only 9% of those who attended a public institution wish they had not gone to college, the Federal Reserve survey found.Are students struggling to pay for college? ›
Students are struggling with education costs.
Sixty-eight percent of students say it is a struggle for them or their family members to pay for their education. Students say the biggest pain point is tuition (46%), followed by technology/laptops (21%) and books/course materials (17%).
The enrollment rate for those from high-income families (83 percent) was higher than the rate for those from low- income (67 percent) and middle-income families (64 percent) in 2016.How can I afford college without parents help? ›
- Fill out the FAFSA.
- Apply for scholarships.
- Get a job.
- Look into tax credits for qualifying college expenses.
- Minimize your college costs.
- Research tuition assistance programs.
- Consider taking out federal student loans.
Lack of budgeting. Buying something based on impulse. Excessive credit card use. Low savings and having no emergency funds.Do parents usually pay for college? ›
Are parents legally obligated to pay for college? State law rules that the obligation to financially support your kids ends when the child turns 18. That means parents have no legal obligation to pay for their child's college education — with one exception.How many kids pay for their own college? ›
Report: 67% of college students fully paying for their own education - University Business.Are most people in debt after college? ›
Data Summary. As of 2022, 43.5 million Americans have federal student loans. Approximately 13% of all Americans had federal student loan debt in 2021. In 2022, 9.9 million borrowers have between $20,000-$40,000 of student loan debt.Does family income affect college admissions? ›
In summary, the short answer is income can affect college admissions. Being a full pay student can benefit you based on the school and their available funds. That's not to say that you should go to a school that you and your parents can't afford and that's going to put you in incredible debt.
51.04% of students drop out because they cannot pay for college (What to Become, 2021). Moreover, 55% of students struggle to financially support their education, which results in 79% of them delaying their graduation (ThinkImpact, 2021).Is college overpriced? ›
Both college tuition and student loan debt are now higher than they've ever been. In the past 10 years, from 2008 to 2018, tuition fees have increased by a shocking 36%. And while inflation of course still exists, in the same time period, the median income increased by a mere 2.1%. So why is college so expensive?