Deadline looming for 2027 prepaid college tuition

Published: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 5:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 5:58 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Time is running out for parents, grandparents or perhaps a rich uncle to buy one of Florida's prepaid college tuition plans at today's prices.

The deadline for purchasing one of the plans is Jan. 31. There are choices that include purchasing four years at one of the state's universities, two years at a Florida community college, or a combination.

Officials with Florida's Prepaid College Plan call it a "secure and safe investment" in today's troubled economy and are encouraging families to take advantage of the program.

Buying a four-year plan for $14,359 for newborns could save a family roughly $25,000 in tuition by time the child enrolls in college in 2027. Tuition for four years at one of Florida's public universities is expected to cost nearly $40,000 in 18 years, plan spokeswoman Diane Hirth said.

"Certainly, the uproar lately in the stock market has caused people anxiety in various areas, including college savings," Hirth said Friday. "Once you purchase a Prepaid College Plan, you don't have to worry about the market."

The Florida plan allows families to buy contracts in lump sums or monthly payments. The money is pooled in long-term investments and those earnings are aimed to keep pace with the cost of tuition years later when a child is ready to begin college.

When former Gov. Bob Martinez helped kick off the first enrollment year on Sept. 22, 1988, he paid $3,814 apiece to cover four years of tuition for his twin granddaughters, Lydia and Emily Keen. More than 1.3 million prepaid college plans have been purchased since.

Florida's tuition and fees are among the nation's lowest, averaging $3,808 a year for full-time, in-state undergraduates. The national average for public universities is $6,585.

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