Thursday, September 8

Florida Universities and Colleges for Bright Futures

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, Apartments.com, 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 - collegefactual.com)

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


University of Florida

Gainesville

Ranking 30

1,325/mo local rent

14,830 / yr on-campus


Florida State University

Tallahassee

Ranking 58

1,288/mo local rent

16,790 / yr on-campus


University of South Florida

Tampa

Ranking 103

1,432/mo local rent

17,036 / yr on-campus


University of Central Florida

Orlando

Ranking 160

1,432/mo local rent

16,180/ yr on-campus


Florida International University

Miami

Ranking 187

1,754/mo local rent

17,300/ yr on-campus



Florida A&M University

Tallahassee

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

Jacksonville

Ranking 272

1,173/mo local rent



New College of Florida

Sarasota

Ranking 82 in colleges

1,473/mo local rent


Pensacola State College

Pensacola

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

Pensacola

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

Sanford

Ranking 70-91 regional colleges s

1,223/mo local rent


Broward College

Ft. Lauderdale

Unranked

2,056/mo local rent


Chipola College

Marianna

Unranked

550*/mo local rent


College of Central Florida

Ocala

Unranked

1,167/mo local rent


Daytona State College

Daytona Beach

Unranked

1,187/mo local rent


Eastern Florida State College

Cocoa 

Unranked

853/mo local rent


Florida Gateway College

Lake City

Unranked

699*/mo local rent


Florida Keys Community College

Key West

Unranked

1,600*/mo local rent


Florida Polytechnic University

Lakeland

Unranked

1,164/mo local rent


Florida SouthWestern State College

Ft. Myers

Unranked

1,333/mo local rent


Florida State College--Jacksonville

Jax

Unranked

1,173/mo local rent


Gulf Coast State College

Panama City

Unranked

1,126/mo local rent


Indian River State College

Ft. Pierce

Unranked

941*/mo local rent


Lake-Sumter State College

Leesburg

Unranked

958/mo local rent


Miami Dade College

Miami

Unranked

1,754/mo local rent


North Florida Community College

Madison

Unranked

725*/mo local rent


Northwest Florida State College

Niceville

Unranked

993/mo local rent


Palm Beach State College

Palm Beach Gardens

Unranked

2,002/mo local rent


Pasco-Hernando State College

New Port Richey

Unranked

1,062/mo local rent


Polk State College

Winter Haven

Unranked

1,052/mo local rent


Saint Johns River State College

Palatka

Unranked

933/mo local rent


Santa Fe College

Gainesville

Unranked

1,325/mo local rent


State College of Florida--Manatee-Sarasota

Bradenton, Venice, Lakewood Ranch

Unranked

1,342/mo local rent


Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee

Unranked

1,288/mo local rent


Valencia College

Orlando

Unranked

1,432/mo local rent



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