With Bright Futures Online, Experts Outline Other Financial Aid Options

On Wednesday, lawmakers on the state Senate appropriations committee are expected to discuss Senate Bill 86, which outlines changes to the Bright Futures scholarship system.

If passed, Senate Bill 86 could remove guarantees that beneficiaries will receive 75% or 100% of their tuition paid. In its amended form, SB 86 would instead link aid to budgetary appropriations.

Before the pandemic, university was a major household expense and now people are really pinching pennies.

RELATED: Florida lawmakers debate changes to Bright Futures scholarships that could limit money awarded

“The university itself can be very, very expensive. And that’s usually the determining factor in how students end up going to school, ”said Mesha Stubbs, career counselor at King High School.

The most recent data from the State University System of Florida shows that, on average, full-time students on campus pay $ 2,608 per semester in tuition alone.

“I push absolutely as much free money as possible through scholarships,” Stubbs said. “Looking for free money to pay for your education is almost like looking for a job. It can be very tiring. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of work.”

Stubbs recommends fastweb.com and scholarships.com to find opportunities from all parts of the country. You can even filter certain qualifications to find the best one for your child. There is no limit to the number of scholarships a teenager can receive.

To save time when applying for multiple scholarships, Stubbs recommends keeping essays and letters of recommendation for reuse. Also make copies. You will also want to apply for any scholarships your child is entitled to.

“About two or three years ago there was a scholarship of $ 20,000 for students in King High School. A student applied for this scholarship and she received this scholarship of $ 20,000 because she did not have a competition, ”said Stubbs.

Another important resource that you should complete for your teen before they even receive acceptance letters is the FAFSA app. It asks about your family’s income and will recommend grants that don’t need to be repaid, work-study opportunities that could help pay for college education or loans.

If you want to borrow money, Billie Jo Hamilton suggests federal loans. She works like the University of South FloridaAssociate Vice President of Registration, Planning and Management

“The [are] the loans we call subsidized loans, where there is no interest accruing while the student is in school and for six months after leaving, “Hamilton said.” Unsubsidized loans are always available for the students, but the interest starts to accumulate as soon as they take out the loan ”

Hamilton advises parents and students to check with the college’s financial aid office for tools that might help you calculate how much you need. She also says that parents and applicants should be aware of “priority deadlines”. Meeting the qualifications and this deadline could earn you institutional money.

“They are awarded to students when they are admitted. There is no separate application,” Hamilton said. “We look at their test scores and their high school average and things like that.”

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