Financial Aid and Bright Futures

Families often ask about Financial Aid and what the process looks like. The information below is intended to help those who are curious and those that haven’t even considered it. 

The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program has helped more than 660,000 Florida students attend a postsecondary institution. The program offers three types of scholarship awards – the Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) award, the Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) award, and the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV) award. Carrollwood Day School students are eligible for the FAS and FMS.



Financial Aid is determined by a number of different factors; it is not determined solely on earned income, thus some families may see a more affordable price point at an out-of-state private college than an in-state public university. So go ahead and apply!

Students apply for financial aid using two different applications. The most common is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It is universally accepted by colleges and is the form that helps student access various federal scholarship programs. This form is available for the following school year, beginning on October 1st. In order to complete it, families will need to input tax data for the past year; they can either estimate them or complete them early. The link at the bottom of this section will walk you through setting up an account and completing the form.

The other form used by some colleges is the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile), provided by the College Board. Colleges that accept the CSS Profile use the information in this form in their own way and determine how much aid is awarded using their own algorithms. This is available in the fall of the current year and is often used by schools with early applications to estimate the financial award for applicants. There is a small fee charged each time students send a profile to a college. Again, the link is included at the bottom of this section.

There are two basic philosophies that schools use to award aid. There are need-based awards that rely on family financial information to determine the amount of aid given, and there are merit-based awards that are driven by a student’s performance/participation in various areas. The need-based awards were discussed above, but the merit-based awards can be both specific to individual colleges and offered through scholarship programs. There are many local scholarships that are available to students at CDS, and these are often more accessible than some of the larger, national ones. As the scholarships come to CDS’s College Counseling office, we will pass them along to students that qualify for them.

Families often ask about the term “Expected Family Contribution” or “EFC”. That number represents the capacity of a family to contribute to a student’s cost of education. It is created from the financial data provided on the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile, and takes into account factors such as income, assets, family size and number of children attending college. Because schools use the CSS Profile in different manners, the EFC often differs slightly at different institutions. Because factors that determine the EFC can change, students must reapply for aid each year. In order to get a sense of what your EFC might be, each college is federally-mandated to have a Net Price Calculator on its website. Filling in some basic information will provide a decent understanding of how much a family could realistically be expected to contribute to their child’s education.

Financial Aid is an important piece of the college process for many families. It is very important that families are transparent about their financial realities with their child’s college counselor so that the office can best counsel them. Below, please find a few more resources and links to help guide you through the process!




Visit the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program website.


There are two basic Bright Futures Scholarship programs that are congruent with Carrollwood Day School students. The FAS (Florida Academic Scholarship: 100% tuition covered) and the FMS (Florida Medallion Scholarship: $158.00 per credit or approximately $4,740.00 per academic year-30 credits).

The requirements for both academic awards are as follows:

Florida Academic Scholarship

  • Weighted HS GPA Minimum    3.5
  • SAT/ACT Minimum                  1290 SAT / 29 ACT
  • Service Hours Required          100 (throughout grades 9-12)
  • Award Amount                         100% tuition / fees, $300 stipend in fall & spring ($211 / credit hour)
  • Maintained GPA in College      3.0

Florida Medallion Scholarship

  • Weighted HS GPA Minimum   3.0
  • SAT/ACT Minimum                 1170 SAT / 26 ACT
  • Service Hours Required          75 (throughout grades 9-12)
  • Award Amount                        $158/credit hour or $4,740 per year (30 credit hours ~ 75% tuition)
  • Maintained GPA in College     2.75

Interesting Facts/ Exceptions

  • FAS or FMS can be applied to a Florida 4-year public, private, or a 2-year community college.
    • The same dollar amount applies to all.
  • Academic (selected courses) will be met via required IB curriculum at CDS.
  • Automatic qualifiers include: 
    • National Merit Finalists
    • National Hispanic Merit Finalists
    • students who earn a Cambridge AICE Diploma (Advanced International Certificate of Education)
    • students who earn an IB Diploma
    • students who graduate with the IB curriculum (with associated testing minimums 1290 / 29-FAS or 1170 / 26-FMS and service hours 100-FAS / 75-FMS).


Because understanding the financial options to pay for your child's college education is just as important as choosing the right college, the College Counseling Department hosted a College Financial Aid Information Night for upper school parents on Monday, October 8, 2018.

We were honored to have Kylie Gross, and Lara Dunaway, Assistant Directors of Financial Aid at the University of Tampa, visit CDS to share valuable insights into navigating the financial aspects of attending college.

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