Thursday, September 8

Florida Universities and Colleges for Bright Futures - Cost Analysis

I created this list of colleges and universities in Florida when I learned about Bright Futures and was trying to see if my kids could afford to win the scholarship. Living on-campus or paying local rent/transportation is not as cheap as you might imagine, and since I created this analysis in May of 2021, rent has probably gone up in most places. That said, we can assume rent has gone up proportionally, and the affordability should still be similar as a comparison. 

Rankings were also from 2020-2021. These don't tend to change drastically, but it's always possible. I went from top-ranked to lowest-ranked, since my kids were interested in the "best" colleges and universities in Florida. I'm sure most of them are fine, and if it makes sense based on rent or sports or major fields of study, I think my kids can do well at any of the campuses. 

For us in Jacksonville, room and board would be free for UNF or using Bright Futures to get two years at FSCJ. However, FSCJ is unranked. Also, my kids claim they want the college experience. Maybe your kids prefer the college experience over free rent at home. It's worth seeing what that will mean for their student loans. I don't think there will be another loan bailout for kids entering college now, so it's important to know how to manage costs. That's why I also provide a handy cost-estimator at the start of the college list. If you share rent costs with other people or choose a dorm, you can do it all a little cheaper. Even at the low $500 a month rent, however (no food), "free" Florida college will cost $24,000. Add $3,000 a year for food alone, and you're looking at $36,000 college costs if you're very budget-minded (assuming your parents were offering free room and board for comparison). Dorm estimates do include room and board, but only Gainesville was slightly under $15,000 per year as of 2021. 

Florida colleges and universities

Rankings via US News and World Report 

Rent using Rentcafe or *Zumper,, or other. Rentcafe may use average for all rent rather than 1 bedroom or studio like some of the others, 

Rent Cost Estimator

500/month x 12 months x 4 years = 24,000

1000/month x 12 months x 4 years = 48,000 

1500/month x 12 months x 4 years = 72,000

Dorm (room, board, books, and expenses -

10000/yr x 4 years = 40,000 ; 15,000/yr x 4 years = 60,000

University of Florida


Ranking 30

1,325/mo local rent

14,830 / yr on-campus

Florida State University


Ranking 58

1,288/mo local rent

16,790 / yr on-campus

University of South Florida


Ranking 103

1,432/mo local rent

17,036 / yr on-campus

University of Central Florida


Ranking 160

1,432/mo local rent

16,180/ yr on-campus

Florida International University


Ranking 187

1,754/mo local rent

17,300/ yr on-campus

Florida A&M University


Ranking 241

1,288/mo local rent

17,648/ yr on-campus

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton

Ranking 272

2,127/mo local rent

20,580/ yr on-campus

University of North Florida


Ranking 272

1,173/mo local rent

New College of Florida


Ranking 82 in colleges

1,473/mo local rent

Pensacola State College


Ranking 30 regional colleges s

1,081/mo local rent

South Florida State College

Avon Park

Ranking 37 regional colleges s

662*/mo local rent

University of West Florida


Ranking 36 regional university s

1,081/mo local rent

Florida Gulf Coast University

Ft. Myers

Ranking 68 regional university s

1,333/mo local rent

St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg

Ranking 68 regional colleges s

1,443/mo local rent

Seminole State College of Florida


Ranking 70-91 regional colleges s

1,223/mo local rent

Broward College

Ft. Lauderdale


2,056/mo local rent

Chipola College



550*/mo local rent

College of Central Florida



1,167/mo local rent

Daytona State College

Daytona Beach


1,187/mo local rent

Eastern Florida State College



853/mo local rent

Florida Gateway College

Lake City


699*/mo local rent

Florida Keys Community College

Key West


1,600*/mo local rent

Florida Polytechnic University



1,164/mo local rent

Florida SouthWestern State College

Ft. Myers


1,333/mo local rent

Florida State College--Jacksonville



1,173/mo local rent

Gulf Coast State College

Panama City


1,126/mo local rent

Indian River State College

Ft. Pierce


941*/mo local rent

Lake-Sumter State College



958/mo local rent

Miami Dade College



1,754/mo local rent

North Florida Community College



725*/mo local rent

Northwest Florida State College



993/mo local rent

Palm Beach State College

Palm Beach Gardens


2,002/mo local rent

Pasco-Hernando State College

New Port Richey


1,062/mo local rent

Polk State College

Winter Haven


1,052/mo local rent

Saint Johns River State College



933/mo local rent

Santa Fe College



1,325/mo local rent

State College of Florida--Manatee-Sarasota

Bradenton, Venice, Lakewood Ranch


1,342/mo local rent

Tallahassee Community College



1,288/mo local rent

Valencia College



1,432/mo local rent

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