The Bright Futures program — created in 1997 to emulate the Georgia HOPE Scholarship — allows Florida high school seniors with significant academic merit to earn a scholarship to any public college/University in the state. It also offers the same funds to students attending a private college in Florida. This scholarship does not apply if the student chooses to attend college outside the state of Florida and the scholarship may only be earned while in high school. There are also retention requirements in both GPA and credit-hour academic load.
Originally the Program disbursed about $70 million on 40,000 scholarships, but the cost for the scholarship has ballooned substantially. Solely funded by proceeds from the Florida State Lottery, recent years have seen the scholarship disbursement rise to nearly a half-billion dollars annually as it serves close to 200,000 students. Whereas families could once count on coverage for tuition, fees and books, today the average award is less than $2,500.