Bright Futures & Credit Hours

Dear UnMazed:

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My daughter should qualify for the FAS Bright Futures top tier,  1490 SAT and 5.3 GPA with over 270 hours of community service.  We have been told that Bright Futures will cover 100% Florida tuition for her and IF the amount does not change each year  for her next years in college .  Awesome! She is graduating this year 2018 with an AA and has taken several AP and dual enrollment courses .  Her college advisor just told her (and this is where the CONCERN AND QUESTIONS began) that Bright Futures covers up to 180 credit hours and she already used the first half in high school earning the AA.  IS THIS TRUE??? It will affect her courses for her college major a lot because she wasn’t advised this in high school and lots of those AP courses were outside her major.  She was told she shouldn’t pass the upcoming AP tests because she wants to preserve the credit hours for Bright Future credit  in college.  Will you please help me understand this ?? 
Very sincerely
Paula (Orlando, Florida)


Dear Paula,

What a great question. First of all, it is wonderful to see your daughter excel in her academics AND community service. I work with many students that are accelerated, as I am Director of Accelerated Programs at Florida SouthWestern State College. 

We are fortunate that Florida is a very friendly to acceleration credits. For more information on Acceleration see the April edition of UnMazed. State statute protects those acceleration credits to be able to have easy transferring to colleges and universities and that it does not hinder students in the Excess Credit law, where tuition DOUBLES if you reach 132 credits after 4 years of college.

So let's break down a few things first.

1. A typical Bachelors degree is a 120 credits. Florida is doing everything it can to get students out the door with a degree in 4 years or less. So Florida has made it more costly for families by charging more for that 5th year and beyond. After students take +10% (12 credits)  beyond the 130 credits, you start paying DOUBLE tuition (this is a Florida Statute!). This 5th year is very costly to families as they are hit with the extra tuition, no bright Futures and other scholarships, and decreased financial aid. So the fact that she is ahead is fantastic. 

2. Your daughter has the ability to earn up to 180 credits (60 while in high school + 120) with full tuition funding! That is 48 more credits than everyone else.


3. I will point, as I this play out- not all college credit is the same! Before you start taking accelerated credit, either in  Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement, Cambridge AICE, or International Baccalaureate, YOU NEED TO ASK HOW DOES THIS COUNT TOWARDS MY DEGREE? If you are not meeting your prerequisites for your bachelors degree, then the credits are not going to do you much good! Just taking classes for the possibility of college credit is not a smart plan, but planning smart is a better plan. I know you do not have that luxury now, but informing other families (hence this post) is key to these issues.

Planning smart is a better plan!

So in the end, she is ahead and that is fantastic. She will have MORE opportunity than other students, as they only get 132 credits, and she gets 180. She should be well under the 180 credits as most BA/BS programs are 120 credits. It is best to work with her college's advisor to make sure she it picking the right classes to continue to decrease time spent in college, as she focuses on her required courses.

That said, I would still have her do her best on her AP exams. At the end of the end of the day, she is still better off having the accelerated classes, knowing she did her best, and receiving credit so she can focus on her "core classes" rather than electives.

All the best!

Dr. Amanda Sterk