Water Cooler Wednesday (A Day Early)

Sean Moore provides solid advice for parents

Sean Moore provides solid advice for parents



By Sean Moore, President of SMART College Funding, Boca Raton


As parents, there’s no question we get sweaty palms and suffer anxiety when thinking about financial obligations. And, there is perhaps no greater stress point than trying to figure out how to pay for our children’s college education.


In June, our legislators recognized this by revamping the Florida Pre-Paid College plan, rolling back costs to the lowest levels since 2007. With the enrollment period starting this month and continuing until February 2015, parents should re-consider this plan which suddenly makes financial sense. The new plan has basically cut the cost of a college education at Florida state universities by approximately 50 percent.


In short, the new law reduced the cost of a newborn plan by more than $26,000 for  4-year tuitions plan, and dropped monthly payment plans to less than $180, down from $350 last year.  In addition, nearly $200 million will be returned to current plan owners, thereby guaranteeing that no current plan owner will pay more than the reduced costs.


The dramatic reduction is tied directly to the new law created by House Bill 851, which also caps annual increases to six percent for “preeminent” state universities and zero percent for other state universities. Previously, the tuition increase could increase by up to 15 percent annually.

The new bill also has created flexibility.  Families will have the opportunity to purchase a 4-year Florida University Plan for as low as $173 a month and a 2 + 2 Florida Plan (2 years at a community college/2 years at a university) for as low as $136 a month.

There is a new 1-Year Florida University Plan which allows families to purchase up to four years at a state university in one- year increments as their budgets afford them. This starts as low as $43 per month.

Some say this was strictly a political move with elections on the horizon. Regardless of the motivation, families should take a close look at this plan which suddenly makes a college education much more affordable.


The worldwide financial crisis starting in 2007, resulted in the legislature lifting a cap on plan costs.  In a span of one two-year period, the cost of the plan nearly doubled. Last year the cost reached $53,729.20 (for 4 years at a university) for a newborn, almost 4 times the cost of the same plan in 2007! At those price points, the plan just didn’t make financial sense. Today, it does.


The motivation of our politicians is irrelevant. What is relevant is that they have suddenly made what once seemed unaffordable well within the reach of many. We can now provide this education without plunging ourselves or our children into deep debt with college loans.


Sean Moore is president of Boca Raton-based SMART College Funding, a firm which helps families reduce college expenses. For more information, visit www.Smart4college.com.




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