A variety of scholarships and state-sponsored grants are available to help Florida students pay for a postsecondary education through the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) of the Florida Department of Education. To apply for most of the educational grants listed below, a student needs to fill out a standard Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) and submit it to OSFA. To receive almost any one of these grants, you must be a Florida resident, a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, free of repayment obligations or default status on any federal or state loan, scholarship program or grant who does not yet have an undergraduate degree. Additional eligibility requirements may include enrolling in a certain type of school or program for a specified minimum number of credits or classroom hours. All grants are awarded on a one-time basis and must be renewed each term by verifying your eligibility. Meanwhile, a variety of federal and state, public and private loans are also available to Florida postsecondary students.
Access to Better Learning and Education Grant
Known as the ABLE Grant for short, this grant gives tuition aid to undergraduates enrolled in an eligible Florida university or college degree program. Majors in divinity and theology are not eligible for the grant.
Benacquisto Scholarship Program
A merit scholarship awarded only to those recognized as National Merit Scholars, this scholarship pays for the cost to attend an in-state school. If the student also receives funds from a National Merit award and/or Bright Futures award, then those amounts are deducted from the amount of their scholarship.
Bright Futures Scholarship Program
Over 725,000 Florida students have received funds for college through one of many scholarships funded by the state lottery. Among the Bright Futures Scholarships available are the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV), the Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS), the Florida Gold Seal CAPE Scholars (GSC) and the Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) awards. The student must enroll in either a degree, certificate or applied tech program at an in-state private or public institution.
First Generation Matching Grant
If you are the first generation of your family to go to college, defined as having at least one parent who does not possess an undergraduate degree, then you may be eligible for a matching grant to attend a Florida state university or public community college. You must also demonstrate substantial financial need.
Florida Resident Access Grant
Also known as the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program, this grant provides undergraduate tuition aid for attendance at qualifying non-profit, private Florida postsecondary educational institutions. Specific eligibility requirements and application procedures and deadlines are determined by each individual institution. Theology and divinity majors are ineligible for this award.
Florida Student Assistance Grant
Under the FSAG program is an assortment of need-based grants, including the Florida Public Student Assistance Grant, the Florida Private Student Assistance Grant, the Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant and the Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant. There is also funding for qualifying high school students through the Talented Twenty program.
José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant
Both need-based and merit-based, this scholarship offers funding to qualifying students of Hispanic descent. To be eligible, a student must be from the Spanish culture, which is defined as either having a natural parent born in Mexico, South America, Central America, a Hispanic Caribbean country or being born in one of those countries oneself. Portuguese students of Brazilian background are not eligible for this award.
Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship
The MMB is another scholarship that is both need-based and merit-based. It is awarded only to students attending one of four specific institutions: Florida Memorial University, Florida A&M University, Edward Waters College or Bethune-Cookman University.
Minority Teacher Education Scholarship
Run by the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc. (FFMT), the MTES program offers performance-based scholarships for students of Native American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American and African-American descent. All Florida College System schools and private and public universities in the state with teacher education programs participate in this program.
Rosewood Family Scholarship
Only direct descendants of the historical Rosewood family incidents from January of 1923 are eligible for this award. A maximum of 50 scholarships are granted through the program each year and the Florida Legislature must appropriate funds for the scholarship annually.
Federal Direct Loans
Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least half time can take out subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans of up to a set amount each year while in school. No repayments are due on these loans, also commonly called Stafford Loans, while the student is still in school and for six months afterward, although interest does accrue in that time on unsubsidized loans.
Federal PLUS Loans
Parents of dependent students who are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program can both take out these low-interest loans. The borrower’s credit history is taken into consideration when approving this loan.
The federal government offers these low interest loans to both undergraduate and graduate students who can demonstrate significant financial need. Interest is not charged for as long as the student is enrolled half time and for a nine-month grace period afterward.