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    Top Affordable Colleges in Florida

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Updated: June 3rd, 2024
    Top Affordable Colleges in Florida

    When it comes to affordable colleges, Florida has lots of great choices. Florida residents who have strong academic records can make many different schools affordable through the Bright Futures program. Florida is also home to some of the lowest-tuition and best-known public schools in the country.

    For in-state students

    Florida International University

    Florida International University has a high acceptance rate and incredibly low tuition for in-state students. In fact, they have pledged to cover 100% of tuition and fees for first-time in-state students who demonstrate severe financial need.

    Even if you don’t have this level of financial need, FIU is affordable. Tuition is a jaw-droppingly low $6,565 for in-state students. To get this figure even lower, try checking out some Florida scholarships.

    University of Florida

    University of Florida has a lower acceptance rate than FIU, but their tuition is just as low for in-state students. The school also offers a wide variety of merit scholarships which students can use in conjunction with Bright Futures.

    Florida State University

    Florida State has incredibly low in-state tuition; in 2023 it was $5,656 per year. The average student paid about $10,000 per year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. If you are an in-state student looking for affordable options do not miss FSU!

    Best merit aid

    Florida International University

    Although it’s already on the list, FIU gets two mentions because in addition to some of the best need-based aid, they have incredible merit aid. Students who score highly on their SAT/ACT and have strong high school GPAs automatically qualify for up to full-tuition scholarships.

    These offers are valid for both in-state and out-of-state students, making FIU a great option for merit aid no matter what part of the country you’re from.

    University of Florida

    Similarly to FIU, this Florida school gets two entries on our list. That’s because they have specific programs to offer tuition waivers for out-of-state students who show academic merit. University of Florida is one of the best-known colleges in the state, and if you are able to get in, your degree will almost certainly pay for itself.

    Best for commuters

    Florida Community Colleges

    Florida has a great system of community colleges; some of them even offer a few bachelor’s degree programs, such as Chipola College. In most states, the difference in tuition between community colleges and four-year schools is usually stark. However, in Florida, the difference is not so great. Even if you don’t think you can afford college, you should check out in-state tuition prices, and what you will receive after financial aid and Bright Futures. 

    Florida community colleges are great options for students who are busy with work, family, or other engagements. Students can continue living at home and saving money. They can work during the day and attend night classes. Overall, for students who are having a hard time getting a schedule together for college, community college can be a great option. And you can always start at community college and transfer into a four-year program.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Florida offers some of the best in-state tuition discounts in the country, so Florida residents’ first choice for affordability is typically a public school
    • Florida also offers a great scholarship program called Bright Futures, which can be used at both public and private in-state schools
    • Out-of-state students should investigate University of Florida, which has merit scholarships specifically for out-of-staters

    Frequently asked questions about affordable college in Florida

    How can I establish residency in Florida?

    Oftentimes, schools and states can have their own requirements for what constitutes residency. It may mean holding an address in the state for at least one year. For a thorough guide to the process and requirements, check out our article on how to get in-state tuition as an out-of-state student.

    What if my FAFSA does not show financial need?

    If you do not have the means to pay for college but your FAFSA does not show this financial need, you have a couple options. If you are an in-state student, you can try applying to public colleges like the University of Florida. These schools automatically discount tuition heavily for in-state students, regardless of financial need.

    Additionally, if you have a strong academic background, you can try applying to private schools with strong merit-based aid. Oftentimes, you’ll get the best merit aid at schools that are not overly selective, but have strong merit scholarships.

    Another option is to apply to competitive schools and, after gaining admission, send them a financial aid appeal letter to explain why your financial situation is not captured by your FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. They may adjust your aid offer and grant you admission. 

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