florida aid

Florida Financial Aid Rundown

By Chris Magnan

Florida Financial Aid Rundown

By Chris Magnan
Have questions about the financial aid available to you as a Florida resident? Get the answers from Chris Magnan, Senior Advisor for Financial Literacy Education and Outreach.

There are countless benefits to being a Florida resident–the diversity, the proximity to nature, the widespread access to Publix chicken tender subs. But there’s one benefit, in particular, you might not already know about–the opportunities for financial aid and scholarships available from the state of Florida. Read these frequently asked questions to learn more about how state aid can make a UM education possible for you!

Can I use my Bright Futures scholarship at UM?  

Yes, you can receive both the Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) or Florida Medallion (FM) awards at UM! However, UM does not accept the Vocational Gold Seal award.

The state of Florida will only pay to UM amounts similar to what they would have paid had you gone to a Florida state school. For the 20182019 academic year, FAS awards amounted to approximately $6,900 and FM awards amounted to around $4,700 for eligible recipients.

Does Bright Futures count toward summer classes?

As long as you are taking six credits (typically equal to two classes) or more in a summer term at UM, your Bright Futures award will apply. The value of the awards is determined by the state and the rate is typically similar to the prior spring rate.

How will my Benacquisto scholarship work at UM?

You will receive a Benacquisto award that is equal to the highest cost of attendance at a Florida state school (as determined by the Florida Department of Education) minus your National Merit Scholarship and Florida Bright Futures award. For the 20182019 academic year, the highest cost of attendance at a Florida state school was $24,900. In other words, the combination of the National Merit award, Bright Futures, and Benacquisto scholarships equaled this amount. However, a student’s total aid package cannot exceed UM’s cost of attendance.

Can I get need-based aid from the state of Florida?

Need-based aid from the state of Florida is awarded as the Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) to students with high need, as determined by the FAFSA. For consideration, students must meet the submission deadline for the FAFSA.

How many credits do I need to maintain my scholarships from the state of Florida?

All state awards require you to be enrolled in and complete at least 12 credits or more per term or 24 credits per academic year. 

For Benacquisto, students must earn every credit attempted. If they fail to earn any enrolled credits, they permanently lose their future Benacquisto awards. The only timeframe in which you can drop a course and maintain your future Benacquisto awards is during the add/drop period at the beginning of each semester (drop without a W).

If I drop a class, do I have to pay back the money?

For Bright Futures, yes. If the state pays for credits that you do not earn, you will have to pay back those credits in order to maintain your renewal eligibility.

What GPA do I need to maintain my scholarships from the state of Florida?

Florida Academic Scholars need to maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA while Florida Medallion Scholars need to maintain a 2.75 cumulative GPA. Benacquisto students need to main a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

What other kinds of aid can I get as a Florida resident?

The most common Florida award at UM is the Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) award. It is awarded to all full-time, undergraduate, Florida residents who are citizens or eligible noncitizens. It does not require the completion of the FAFSA nor CSS Profile application, is not awarded based on need or merit and is renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study. The amount for the EASE award was $3,500 for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance and Employment has other awards that you may be eligible to apply for.

What counts as proof of Florida residency?

For dependent students, your biological or adoptive parent is actually the one who needs to prove Florida residency and they have to have permanently lived in the state for at least 12 months prior to you starting at UM. The most common documents used for your parents to prove Florida residency are their Florida driver’s license and vehicle registration or voter registration card, but there are other options that will be listed in your To-Do list in CaneLink, UM’s portal for applicants and current students.

If you are an independent student according to the FAFSA, the documents submitted would be yours and not your parents.

Can I use Florida Prepaid at UM?

Yes, you can! You should contact the Florida Prepaid office to determine the amount that they will pay to UM each year. Because we are not a state school, you will need to complete a transfer form. You would then contact our Office of Student Account Services to set up the billing for this plan by completing an authorization form. They can be contacted at 305-284-6430, option 5.

How can I get an idea of the need-based aid I would get from UM?

Everyone can visit our Net Price Calculator to get a rough estimate of whether or not they may qualify for need-based aid. This can help you decide whether or not to apply for need-based aid. If all your necessary documentation is completed on time, you will receive an aid award letter with your admission notification. Click here to learn more about how to apply for need-based aid.

Please keep in mind that if you checked YES on your Common Application to the question that asked if you want to apply for need-based aid and you’ve since changed your mind, you need to notify Undergraduate Admission right away so they can update their records. 

How would outside scholarships affect my aid?

Outside/private scholarships are those that do not come from the state, the federal government, or UM. They do not normally affect your merit awards* but can have an effect on your need-based grants. If your outside scholarship(s) total more than the difference between your federal need (determined by your FAFSA) and institutional need (determined by your CSS Profile), this is called a gap.  Outside scholarships are applied first to the gap before there is any effect on your need-based aid.

Here’s an example: If your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) from the FAFSA is $5,000 and your EFC from the CSS Profile is $10,000, the $5,000 difference is a gap and is the maximum amount of outside/private scholarships that you could receive without your need-based aid being affected. 

Keep in mind that a student’s total aid package cannot exceed the UM cost of attendance.

How do I apply for a non-custodial parent waiver?

Students who are unable to contact their non-custodial parent (NCP) can apply for a non-custodial parent waiver. You will need to supply a letter, on letterhead, from a third party, such as a counselor, priest, therapist or psychologist, that would corroborate the fact that you have no ability to contact the non-custodial parent. Please remember that a non-custodial parent’s unwillingness to provide the information needed for you to apply for financial aid at UM is not a valid reason to apply for an NCP waiver. 

Chris Magnan is a Senior Advisor for Financial Literacy Education and Outreach in the Office of Student Financial Assistance and Employment.