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Deadline approaches to sign up for Florida Prepaid College Plans

By Staff | Dec 21, 2009

While spending this week searching for the perfect Christmas present for a child, why not put down this holiday season’s sensationalized “hot” gift and offer them up a college education instead.
Florida Prepaid College Plans are enrolling children until Jan. 31 in a program that locks in current tuition rates for their toddlers. Rather than opening a savings account today and paying tuition rates for 2028, parents can get their children into one of Florida’s state colleges paying 2010 tuition rates.
“Buying toys, video games and sports equipment is fun, but it’s smart to redirect some of those dollars to what children will need for their future, a college education,” said Tom Wallace, executive director of the Florida Prepaid College Board, in a prepared statement.
There are two plans available: Florida Prepaid College Plan and Florida College Investment Plan.
The college plan is a pre-pay program that is good at 11 public universities and 28 community colleges, while the investment plan — a riskier program not guaranteed by the state — can be used to offset other fees such as housing, textbooks, computers of supplies.
According to a spokesperson from the Florida Prepaid College Plans, 26,856 Lee County children have been enrolled in the program since 1988. And officials stress that families can reap the most savings by enrolling their children at the youngest age possible.
Local universities and colleges have accepted millions of dollars in tuition and fee payments from students who participate in one or both of these plans.
Florida Gulf Coast University received $2.6 million from 1,755 pre-paid students in the fall of 2008, while Edison State College received $498,750 from 691 pre-paid students.
And because they are a 529 tax-free college savings plan, they are exempt from federal income tax.
Pre-paid college plans from other states reported losing more than half of their funds earlier this year after the economy crashed in 2008. Florida and eight other states were the only ones that secured their plans by passing legislation to require the state to guarantee every cent, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Florida and Colorado are two states currently performing at the top over other state pre-paid plans without any reported deficits.
For more information, visit www.myfloridaprepaid.com.