The Florida Lottery is celebrating 25 years of funding for education in the state. And with that mark, it announced Monday it's given more than $25 billion dollars to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, sending more than 600,000 students to college through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
Locally, the lottery has contributed more than $1.8 billion dollars in education to Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, Flagler and Baker counties.
Brandon Maccuish is just one of nearly 6,000 undergrad students at the University of North Florida who currently receives Bright Futures.
"Thank you for making my college experience better by keeping my costs down and helping me get through it, because without it I wouldn't be the first one in my family to go to college. So it helps out," Maccuish said.
More than $3.9 billion in Bright Futures scholarships have been awarded statewide.
Hannah Custer is a UNF freshman with a 75 percent Bright Futures Scholarship.
"I don't have to worry about a lot of expenses," she said. "It's really great that I've been rewarded for four years of trying my hardest, which is so nice to get that pat on that back everyone loves."
Florida's state colleges and universities have received more than $6.4 billion in Lottery revenues, and Florida's public schools have received more than $14 billion. Also, more than $3.9 billion in Lottery revenues have helped build and renovate schools.
"The students are so appreciative. They're doing so well with their lives. They are moving forward in their academic careers," said Cynthia O'Connell, secretary of the Florida Lottery. "And we're glad to have a small role in that and want to continue to do that."
Florida Education gets about 6 percent of its funding from the Florida Lottery, which means about 30 percent of the money made on the lottery goes into education.
"That's why voters said yes to a lottery 25 years ago, and that was to help fund education," O'Connell said.
Parents or high school students interested in more information on how to apply for a Bright Futures Scholarship should ask their school's guidance counselor.