The Bright Futures program recently adopted changes to make staying in Weld County for post-secondary schooling even more attractive for students.
Beginning in fall 2023, Bright Futures has increased by 75 percent the stipend for students attending Aims Community College, University of Northern Colorado, or other qualified training programs in Weld County. Students studying in Weld County will be eligible to receive up to $3,500 annually (up from $2,000 annually) for up to four years, a potential total of $14,000 toward a degree or trade certification.
Bright Futures is available for all qualifying Weld County high school graduates, GED recipients, or honorably discharged veterans. Students who attend college or training programs outside Weld County in Colorado or in one of the seven states contiguous to Colorado are still eligible to receive up to $2,000 per year for four years toward a degree or certification. Those states include Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
The program is also implementing additional changes which will be beneficial for all Bright Futures students. Historically, Bright Futures awards have been a last-dollar-in program and restricted to tuition and fees only. Going forward, Bright Futures grants will be first-dollar-in, allowing students to use their entire Bright Futures award. The funds may be used to purchase books, as well as a personal computer and transportation expenses, in addition to tuition and fees. These expenditures are included in the “Cost of Attendance” as set forth by the United States Department of Education.
To be eligible for the Bright Futures award, students have historically been required to complete 16 hours of community service in Weld County. For the 2024-25 school year, students will only be required to complete 12 hours of community service and will be able to complete them anywhere. This allows students to fulfill the volunteer requirement where they are attending school, if located outside of Weld County.
The program changes also allow some students to be eligible to apply for Bright Futures who previously were not. Students will now be eligible to apply for Bright Futures up to 6 years post high school graduation, regardless of when they enroll in school or training program. Previously, Bright Futures eligibility was limited to two years following high school graduation or GED attainment to apply.
Finally, the program plans to create a new position, a scholar relations officer, to support Bright Futures students at Aims Community College and University of Northern Colorado. This specialist will work with Bright Futures students to help monitor academic performance and progress toward their graduation or certification. This scholar relations officer will also help connect Bright Futures students with post-graduate career and employment opportunities.
“We are excited to deepen the impact Bright Futures will have on Weld County- both for the students as well as the employers throughout the community,” shared Bright Futures Chief Executive Officer Jeff Carlson. “Bright Futures is increasing the award for students who stay in Weld County, expanding the eligibility for students to apply, and creating additional ways to support students at Aims and UNC both while they’re in school and entering the workforce. These are all incredible opportunities to build a more educated and skilled workforce for Weld County.”
Bright Futures applications are due every May 15th for the upcoming school year. They will be reopening their application portal for a short period of time this summer for students who now qualify under the program change of eligibility up to six years post-high school graduation or GED certification.
To learn more about Bright Futures or donate to the program to help Weld County students for generations to come, visit brightfuturesco.com.