Fla. Prepaid College enrollment opens, lock in today's tuition prices

Here are strategies to keep your child from leaving college with a heavy debt.

Sarasota, Fla. -- A student loan debt is said to be second to mortgages keeping many college graduates from advancing in life. Things like buying a car, a home, or paying rent can become unaffordable.

The Florida Prepaid College Plan allows parents to plan for college and at more affordable prices.

Summer Creasy’s son Petyon is 3-years-old and she’s 6 months pregnant with a girl. They’re little now but she knows time will fly by.

Summer says, “I feel college will be here when I wake up in the morning. Thinking about what to do and how to prepare; it’s very stressful.”

Summer says she’ll enroll her kids in the Florida PrePaid College Plan like her parents did for her. “It did take the burden off of me when I was in college not worried about having loans,” says Summer.

“It’s great for the student because it’s already paid for,” says Toni Stenshoel with the State College of Florida in Bradenton. Stenshoel says Florida Prepaid is a way to lock in today’s tuition prices. She says, “If you locked at $102.48 but in 18 years it’s $500 a semester-hour they are going to pay all that as well.”

Her advice to parents: Do your homework. Stenshoel says “Get started early.”

The longer you wait, the more expensive the plan. If parents are not able to do one lump sum or pay in five years, the monthly installments will go up the older the child. A 4-year university plan for a child who is 5-years-old today will cost $235.87 per month. A plan for a newborn costs $186.28 per month.

“Secondly, research different plans available to cover things you need down the line,” says Stenshoel. There are plans for 1-year and 2-year community college followed by 2-years at a 4-year college and others.

When college time arrives, Stenshoel says make sure at the time of enrollment the student opts to use it.

“Now it’s just a matter of saying 'yes, I want to use it'. The rest is up to us. It’s all automated,” explains Stenshoel.

If your child changes their mind about going to college, the money is refundable. But educators hope that doesn’t happen. They say college is about more than a piece of paper.

“To be competitive in the market, it’s a huge requirement,” says Stenshoel.

It’s an edge Summer wants her kids to have one day.

The Florida Prepaid tuition plan doesn't cover fees, books or room and board. The state has other plans available to lock in those prices too.

The enrollment period to lock in this school year’s prices closes on February 28.


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