Does dual enrollment impact Bright Futures eligibility for homeschooled students in FL? No, dual enrollment, including getting an AA (Associates Degree) while dual enrolled, does not impact Bright Futures. Additionally, the combination of earning an Associates and qualifying for Bright Futures can be advantageous for a homeschooled student.
This is a question that we get very often in our Facebook group, Florida Homeschoolers Dual Enrolled.
While public and private school students have course requirements to become eligible for Bright Futures, dual enrollment courses can be used to complete those requirements. Homeschooled students have no course requirements for Bright Futures, and are not even part of a homeschooled student’s Bright Futures application. We are only required to provide test scores and community service hours.
An AA has no impact on Bright Futures Scholarships, however it can be an asset for a student who has big academic plans, such as going to graduate school or beyond.
She received the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship: she had a high enough SAT score to qualify as a Florida Medallion Scholar, which covers 75% of tuition and fees. She is now a student at the University of Florida.
Bright Futures, plus additional scholarship money that she got from UF, provided enough funds for her to pay for tuition, room, textbooks, and meals, enabling her to complete the last 53 credits of her bachelor’s degree for free. Since she already completed an associates degree while a homeschooled student, and all of those credits were accepted and applied to her towards her bachelors, she actually has enough money (and time) to pay for a double major now— thanks to Bright Futures.
Because Bright Futures will cover 120 credits, she is now going pursuing a double major in history and criminology.
A Little Known Fact – Graduate School
Bright Futures will also pay for her first semester of graduate school, and so for the next two years she will complete her two bachelors degrees, and start on her graduate degree with the Combined Degree program. What that means is that she can complete her masters with just one additional year after her bachelors.
From page 6 of Chapter 2 of the Bright Futures Handbook:
“A FAS or FMS scholarship recipient, who graduates with a baccalaureate degree in seven or fewer semesters, or in 105 semester hours or fewer, may receive funding for one semester of graduate study, not to exceed 15 credit hours paid at the undergraduate rate. Graduate school funding must be used within the applicable scholarship length.”
Since Bright Futures will cover the first semester of her graduate work, right now she’s looking at two bachelors degrees, and one semester of her second year of masters degree, all covered by Bright Futures.
Bright Futures will cover the graduate courses at the undergraduate credit rate, so it may not cover all of it, but it’s still a great savings.
Our daughter would not have been able to squeeze as much juice out of the scholarship if she didn’t already have her associate’s degree. So I highly recommend, if possible (depending on the major of course), getting the associates, especially if the student is going to be able to qualify for Bright Futures.
Your Mileage May Vary
I just want to add, that my daughter’s major is history. University of Florida took all of her credits and applied them towards her bachelors degree general education requirements. For some majors of study, the four year institution may suggest that the student retake several core courses, especially for science majors. If your student decides to retake those courses, they will count towards the 120 hours that Bright Futures will pay for, and will then reduce the amount of extra funding for a double major or graduate school.
Always consult with the department advisors at the universities that your student intends to apply to and find out if they highly suggest that incoming students retake core courses for the major. Even if they do, that doesn’t mean that the Associates Degree is not an advantage. And, students can choose not to follow those recommendations– it’s up to them. I’m not advising that either way – this is just to give you a heads up about information you should ask about when going about your own research.