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College Plan Helps Floridians Invest In Their Children’s Future

Carl Lisciandrello
WUSF Public Media

According to a study from the Florida Prepaid College Board, more than 90% of Florida families say that college is still important to them, even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christina Campbell is one such believer.

The Tampa mother says the pandemic was “a big eye-opener” when it comes to planning for the future for her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.

“There's so much uncertainty. We saw graduates that are graduating virtually, the job market is closed, there's just so much unknown of what's happening, so I think it's important to get into college,” she said.

“I do think it's important to have that college degree, even if you don't use it, because it just kind of sets that foundation.”

At the same time, the average cost of college tuition and fees in Florida came in last year at $3,894 for in-state students.

However, Florida public university tuition could increase for the first time in a decade because of a shortfall in state revenues.

That’s where the Florida Prepaid College Plans could make a difference. Open enrollment started at the beginning of February.

Shannon Colavecchio, a spokesperson for Florida Prepaid, knows the financial questions are among the first that families ask when figuring out if a child can go to college.

“Once you get a prepaid plan, you don't have to worry about what happens with tuition,” she said. “When it's time for your child to go to college, whatever the price of tuition actually is, we will always cover that tuition cost.”

The only requirement is for the child or parent to be a Floridian. Over 50,000 Florida families purchased a plan last year.

“Florida is kind of a transitional state; we have people coming and going,” said Colavecchio.

“The great thing about a prepaid plan is that if you leave the state, you can continue contributing to your plan. And when it's time for your child to go to college, the value of the plan does not change.”

Another thing that stays the same is the investment the families put in. Even if the child decides they do not want to attend college or a trade school, the family won’t lose any of the money they invested.

Campbell’s family has been enrolled in the program for more than five years. She says that she likes that her investment in her children's future is guaranteed.

“I think it'll put my kids in a better position because they will have some portion of their college tuition paid for, whether it's the whole thing, whether it's just a portion of it,” said Campbell.

“So if for some reason, they get a scholarship or they decide not to go hopefully that's not the case — I know that it's guaranteed, so we'll get the money back.”

The most inexpensive plan for a newborn costs $45/month to enroll in one year at a university. A full four-year university plan costs $180/month.

Those prices are up slightly from last year.

There are also two- and four-year plans for state schools, as well as hybrid plans where a student would study for two years at a state college before finishing up with two more years at a state university.

Open enrollment runs through April 30. You can find out more information about the different programs here.

Additional information courtesy Tom Urban - News Service of Florida.

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Devonta Davis