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Florida Prepaid offers new incentives for college savings

During this Open Enrollment period, more than 22,000 families have enrolled in the Florida 529 Prepaid Plan.
During this Open Enrollment period, more than 22,000 families have enrolled in the Florida 529 Prepaid Plan.

The Florida Prepaid College Board is urging families to lock in the future cost of college with a Florida 529 Prepaid Plan. The program is the largest and the longest-running prepaid college program in the nation, and for the first time ever it is offering families an incentive for enrollment.

Families that enroll in a Prepaid Plan prior to April 30, 2022, will earn a bonus that can be used toward additional college expenses. For each year of college or university Prepaid Plan purchased, Florida Prepaid will put $125 into a Florida 529 Savings Plan, up to $500.

“We really value the investment that families are making in their children, and we want to be part of that journey,” Florida Prepaid College Board spokesperson Shannon Colavecchio said. “And it’s really our way of saying thank you, and that we just absolutely encourage this saving early and doing this for our children.”

All Prepaid Plans are guaranteed by the State of Florida, so families will never lose their investment. If a child attends an out-of-state or private college, Florida Prepaid will pay the same amount as it would pay at a public college or university in Florida. Families can choose from five prepaid tuition plans, as well as the optional prepaid dormitory plan, and a child has up to 10 years after high school graduation to use the plan.

“I often say that one of the most important and yet intangible benefits of Florida Prepaid and saving for college early is the message that you are sending to a child,” Colavecchio said. “Research shows that children with even a small amount of college savings are two and a half times more likely to attend and graduate from college.”

Nick Pugliese started Florida Prepaid Plans for both of his daughters just a few months after they were born. He said he encourages people to do their own research, but he does not hesitate to promote the plan to parents.

“To me, it’s a no brainer, you basically lock in your children as soon as they’re born, and you pay a very small amount,” he said. “For me, I don’t see any negatives. I think it’s a good program, it’s really helped our daughters out.”

Pugliese’s eldest daughter, Tori, is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University. She received several college scholarships, but she was able to dedicate those funds to things like textbooks and housing costs. She said that having the plan has been a relief.

“I am very grateful, it really didn’t hit me how grateful and like how great of an idea it was until senior year when I was starting to apply for schools,” she said. “Two years in, it’s kind of like, yeah, that that was a really great opportunity that my parents took. And I’m very glad that they did go with the program.”

Open Enrollment for Florida Prepaid ends on April 30, and it is the only annual window when families can lock in future tuition costs at today’s plan prices.

“The big key here is the tuition,” Pugliese said. “The tuition Tory is paying was the tuition that the state university was charging back in 2002, the year she was born.”

This year, families can purchase a 4-Year Florida University Plan for a newborn for as low as $181 a month or a 2-Year Florida College Plan for just $54 a month. In addition to other plan options, the Board offers a 1-Year Florida University Plan which starts as low as $45 per month and covers 30 university credit hours. Multiple family members can purchase a 1-Year Florida University Plan for the same child, sharing the cost of saving for college.

“We have an open enrollment window each year, and during that window, we set the pricing for each of our five different plans and a dorm plan,” Colavecchio said. “So, when you set up that plan, your pricing will never go up each month.”

Colavecchio said that even if the state finds that tuition has suddenly skyrocketed, families have the guarantee that no matter what, Florida Prepaid will cover the cost of tuition when it’s time for their children to go to college.

“This really is a way for families to essentially make themselves immune to inflation, when it comes to college and university tuition in Florida,” she said.

Families can use the online Prepaid Plan pricing tool to determine what the various plans cost based on a child’s age, as well as explore the different payment options available and learn more about the incentives. To learn more, visit myfloridaprepaid.com

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Talia Blake
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