Here’s something you might not know: Florida State University was founded in 1851 in Tallahassee, which makes it the oldest university in the state. However, the first recognized college in Florida was Rollins College, which was founded by New England Congregationalists who wished to develop liberal arts education in Florida.

Since then, colleges have proliferated in the state. If you are thinking of attending one of these schools or you’re already enrolled in one, there’s good news. The State of Florida offers many college scholarship funds and grants for its residents. Below, we’ll outline various Florida Department of Education programs designed to help Florida residents with the cost of tuition and related education expenses. The great thing about these scholarship awards is that you don’t have to pay the money back.

For most prizes below, the best starting place is to check eligibility requirements. Most awards ask that you complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) and/or a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply. The FAFSA is available by the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

But if government programs aren’t right for you, you may also consider private scholarships. These are scholarship opportunities open to students across the United States and may be based on criteria other than residence – e.g., needs-based, merit-based, extracurriculars-based, and/or other student-specific criteria. You can find thousands of these options in the free BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder. This tool matches you with scholarships based on your profile.

Now, let’s get to the prizes!

Florida Scholarship Programs

The Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Assistance offers a variety of college scholarships for Florida students. Remember, always check eligibility requirements because they can vary quite a lot from prize to prize.

Benacquisto Scholarship Program

The Benacquisto Scholarship Program is a merit scholarship for high school graduates who receive recognition as a National Merit Scholar. Eligible scholars will receive an award equal to the institutional cost of attendance for an in-state student minus the sum of Bright Futures and the National Merit award.

Bright Futures Scholarship

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program establishes lottery-funded scholarships to reward Florida high school graduates for high academic achievement. There are various types of Bright Futures Scholarship including: the Florida Academic Scholarship, Florida Medallion Scholarship, Florida, Gold Seal CAPE Scholarship, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship.

Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program

The Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship (FFSS) Program is a need-based merit scholarship that provides financial assistance to a maximum of 50 eligible students who are farmworkers (or children of farmworkers). Students who attend a public postsecondary institution will receive an award equal to the amount required to pay tuition and specified fees.

José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund

The José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund is a need-based merit scholarship that provides financial assistance to eligible students of Hispanic origin who will attend Florida public or eligible private institutions.

In addition to other eligibility requirements, students must be of Spanish culture, born in or having a natural parent who was born in either Mexico or a Hispanic country of the Caribbean, Central or South America, regardless of race. Students of the following countries are not considered for an evaluation of this scholarship: Brazil, Spain and Haiti.

Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Program

The Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship (MMB) provides financial assistance to undergraduate students who meet scholastic requirements, demonstrate financial need, and attend Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, Florida A&M University or Florida Memorial University. Each participating institution determines application procedures, deadlines and student eligibility.

Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program

The Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program was created by the 2021 Florida Legislature to provide student financial assistance for a maximum of 50 eligible students who are either (1) a direct descendant of victims of the Ocoee Election Day Riots of November 1920, or (2) current African-American residents of Ocoee, Florida. Applicants must provide proof of ancestry or proof of residency to the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) for initial eligibility consideration. Eligible students will receive an amount up to $6,100 annually not to exceed the amount of the student’s tuition and registration fees.

Rosewood Family Scholarship

The Rosewood Family Scholarship Program was created to provide student financial assistance for a maximum of 50 eligible students who prove they are direct descendants of Rosewood families affected by the historical incidents of January 1923.

Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans

The Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans (CSDDV) provides an award to dependent children or un-remarried spouses of qualified Florida veterans.

An eligible student may receive funding for up to 110 percent of the number of the required credit hours of an initial baccalaureate degree or certificate program for which the student is enrolled.

Florida Grant Programs

William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Program

The William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Program provides tuition assistance to Florida undergraduate students attending an eligible private, non-profit Florida college or university. Each participating institution determines application procedures, deadlines and student eligibility.

First Generation Matching Grant Program

The First Generation Matching Grant Program (FGMG) is a need-based grant program available to degree-seeking, resident, undergraduate students who demonstrate substantial financial need, and are enrolled in eligible participating postsecondary institutions. Eligible students have a parent(s) who has not earned a baccalaureate or higher degree.

Florida Student Assistance Grant Program

The Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) Program is a need-based grant program available to degree-seeking, resident, undergraduate students who demonstrate substantial financial need and are enrolled in participating postsecondary institutions.

The Talented Twenty Program provides priority FSAG funding for eligible high school students. Talented Twenty students should contact the financial aid office for FSAG eligibility and priority funding.

Florida Work Experience Program

The Florida Work Experience Program (FWEP) is a need-based program providing eligible Florida students work experiences to complement and reinforce their educational and career goals. Each eligible and participating college, university, Florida college (public community college), career center operated by a district school board and educator preparation institute determines application procedures, deadlines, student eligibility and award amount.

Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program

The Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program (HDGAP) is a supplemental need-based veteran educational benefit. Funds are to be used to assist in the payment of living expenses during holiday and semester breaks for active duty and honorably discharged members of the Armed Forces who served on or after September 11, 2001.

Minority Teacher Education Scholars Program Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc.

The Minority Teacher Education Scholars (MTES) program is a collaborative performance-based scholarship program for African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native American students administered by the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, Inc. (FFMT).

The participating institutions include Florida College System institutions and public and private universities that have teacher education programs. A listing of eligible institutions and contact information is available at Florida Fund for Minority Teachers.

Find More Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid for a Florida College

To help pay for college, you can also use the BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder. It’s free and can help you get started on the road to paying for your tuition and education expenses. The scholarship database matches you with thousands of scholarships from all over the country, which you can easily sort through on your dashboard. You can also use our blog as a resource to help you create great scholarship applications. We are constantly adding new resources to help you find and win money to cover education costs.

College and university scholarships are awarded throughout the seasons so check back during the academic year for updates – you can likely qualify for many scholarships every year based on your community service profile, grade point average (GPA), financial need, where you attend college, etc. Applying for scholarships doesn’t have to be daunting. Get started today and you just might win some money for college.