Florida College Grants and Scholarships — Best Options and How to Apply

April 4, 2020 Loans & Finance

Many students struggle to pay for school because they miss out on financial aid they’re eligible to receive. Florida is No. 43 among U.S. states and the District of Columbia when it comes to completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is bad news, since the FAFSA offers access not just to student loans, but also government grants and scholarships.

And beyond federal programs, there are many awards that you would apply to separately from the FAFSA, some of which are special for Florida students. Here’s how you can find Florida grants and scholarships to save money on your education.

8 Florida grants and scholarships for college students

Beyond federal opportunities available through the FAFSA, such as Pell grants, Florida residents are eligible for a number of state-offered grants and scholarships. Here are eight good ones to consider:

1. Access to Better Learning and Education Grant Program
2. First Generation Matching Grant
3. Effective Access to Student Education Program
4. Florida Student Assistance Grant
5. José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund
6. Rosewood Family Scholarship
7. Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship (FFSS) Program
8. Benacquisto Scholarship Program

1. Access to Better Learning and Education Grant Program

The Access to Better Learning and Education Grant is for Florida residents who choose to attend an eligible private college or university that is part of the program. Eligible students can receive up to $1,500 in tuition assistance.

To qualify, students must be Florida residents and be either U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens. Applicants must not be in default on their current student loans and must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree for the first time. The grant is renewable for each year you’re in school. However, you must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.

To apply, contact the financial aid office of one of the participating schools.

2. First Generation Matching Grant

The First Generation Matching Grant was designed to help first-generation college students pay for school. The amount you receive is at the college’s discretion, but eligible students can receive enough money to cover the full cost of tuition.

It’s a need-based grant, and you’ll be considered a first-generation student if neither of your parents earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. You must enroll in one of the participating schools and demonstrate financial need by completing the FAFSA.

Each school might have additional requirements, so you should contact the financial aid office to find out the institution’s criteria.

3. Effective Access to Student Education Program

The Effective Access to Student Education Program, formerly the Florida Resident Access Grant, provides tuition assistance to students attending a participating private or nonprofit university. Those schools will have their own application procedures, deadlines, award amounts and eligibility requirements.

In general, students must be pursuing their first bachelor’s degree and taking at least 12 credit hours per term. Students enrolled in degree programs in theology or divinity are not eligible for the program.

To apply, contact the participating school’s financial aid office.

4. Florida Student Assistance Grant

The Florida Student Assistance Grant is for students who can demonstrate a substantial financial need. There are four versions:

Florida Public Student Assistance Grant: for students who attend state universities or public community colleges
Florida Private Student Assistance Grant: for students who attend private, nonprofit colleges or universities
Florida Postsecondary Student Assistance Grant: for students who attend degree-granting private colleges but are not eligible for the Florida Private Student Assistance Grant
Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant: for students who attend a participating public community college or career center

The amount of the award, applicant eligibility, and deadlines are set by the participating schools. The annual award can vary year to year. Currently, the minimum is $200, but the grant can be large enough to cover the full cost of tuition and fees.

To qualify, students must show financial need by completing and submitting their FAFSA. Then, they must contact the school’s financial aid office to complete their application.

5. José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund

The José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund gives Hispanic students with a demonstrated financial need $2,000 to help cover the cost of tuition and fees.

To qualify, you or one of your parents must have been born in Mexico or a Hispanic country in the Caribbean, Central America or South America. You must have earned at least a 3.0 GPA by the end of your seventh semester of high school.

Unlike for other grants, completing the FAFSA is not enough to be considered for this award. You also must complete the Florida Financial Aid Application. The state’s Department of Education will use these forms to determine your need before issuing a grant.

6. Rosewood Family Scholarship

There are also several scholarships available to help Florida students pay for college. For example, the Rosewood Family Scholarship offers scholarships worth up to $6,100 annually, to direct descendants of Rosewood families affected by historical incidents that occurred January 1923.

To apply for the Rosewood Family Scholarship, you’ll need to submit descendant information, and submit your FAFSA and Florida Financial Aid Application.

7. Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship (FFSS) Program

The Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship offers financial assistance to up to 50 eligible students who qualify as farmworkers or are children of farmworkers.

To apply for this scholarship, you’ll need to be a Florida resident, have a GPA of 3.5 for high school courses and be a farmworker or child of a farmworker. The scholarship award could be as much as 100% of your tuition expenses.

8. Benacquisto Scholarship Program

The Benacquisto Scholarship Program is awarded to National Merit Finalists who have received the National Merit $2,500 Scholarship, the Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship or the College-sponsored Merit Scholarship. Unlike many other Florida grants and scholarships, you do not have to complete a Florida Financial Aid Application to apply for this scholarship.

Paying for college

Although these Florida grants and scholarships can help you reduce your education costs, you might need to turn to student loans to cover the total cost of attendance. It’s wise to consider federal and private student loans to find an affordable option that works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide to federal loans and this list of our favorite private student loan lenders.

Christina Majaski contributed to this report.

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