Florida Bright Futures Eases Requirements for Students Due to Coronavirus

As part of the effort to ease some of the restrictions put in place because of COVID-19, the Department of Education in Florida has decided to go easy on recipients of Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The requirement to complete volunteer service hours will be temporarily suspended. Also, a deadline to earn qualifying standardized test scores for the different types of scholarships offered for Bright Futures has been extended.

The decision comes after high school students found it difficult to complete volunteer hours and get high SAT or ACT scores after lockdowns due to COVID-19. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran signed an executive order late Wednesday, June 10 that eases some eligibility requirements for awards under Bright Futures. Students may submit statements from school counselors or authorized administrators that certify the students had intentions of completing the necessary voluntary hours.

This is only if the students were unable to complete volunteer work during the 2019-2020 academic year. Students are required to complete at least 30 to 100 hours of volunteer service hours to be eligible for the scholarship, depending on the level of the award.

“Such documentation shall be considered as evidence that a student has completed the required number of volunteer service hours for scholarship eligibility,” the order said.

The deadline to earn appropriate SAT or ACT scores have been extended to July 31. Usually, high school seniors would have until June 30 to take the tests, according to the Florida Department of Education website.  Commissioner Corcoran’s order said the moves are needed to “mitigate the impacts of the emergency and to promote the health, safety and welfare of persons connected with Florida’s educational system.” The College Board has no scheduled dates for SAT administrations until Aug. 29, according to its website. Meanwhile, the ACT has test dates Saturday and July 18.

The College Board noted on its website that it will provide weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August. The ACT, however, has started administering tests earlier. Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the organization has been working with the department and local school districts to open more test sites. It has already signed up 4,000 students to take the test in June, and will be prioritizing current seniors, she added.

“While the College Board cannot directly control capacity and test center availability, the organization is working with local high schools, colleges, and other sites to increase seating capacity in areas where August and September registration are filling up,” the College Board states.

About Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program is only available to Florida residents who have graduated from a Florida high school and are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Florida residency and eligibility for Florida State aid programs are based on state law and administrative rules. Generally, students whose families have been living in Florida twelve (12) months prior to the start of the school year are considered residents. A full and complete description of rules and regulations regarding Bright Futures and other state aid can be found through the state’s Office of Student Financial Assistance.