Florida's prepaid college tuition cost has skyrocketed for cash strapped families

Tuition hikes drive up price of pre-paid plans

TAMPA - A couple of years ago, Cornelia Washington came to realize her then 8th grade son Mason was definitely College material.

"Mason enjoys football. He's really good at it. He likes school. So I though maybe it's time to start that pre-paid Florida college plan" said Washington.

Cornelia and her husband chose the top tier 4 year University plan that cost nearly $750 a month.

"We did that for a couple of months and we decided that we could not afford it," said Cornelia.

Not many people can, which is why  participation in Florida Prepaid has plummeted . Back in 2007, the 4 year university plan cost $15,000 in a lump sum.  Today it costs just under $54,000-more if you spread out the payments.

The executive director of the program blames massive tuition hikes.

" In five out of the last six years in Florida, we saw double digit increases in tuition," said Kevin Thompson.

Because the pre-paid Florida board sets the price based on what they think tuition will be 18 to 28 years down the road, they have to assume the inflation will continue.

They suggest parents consider the less expensive  '2 plus 2 plan' that pays for two years of a Florida College and  two years of University.  That's what Cornelia did for Mason, realizing that her son may still have to take on student loans to pay for room and board that Florida Prepaid doesn't cover.

"I hate to see that, but it's probably going to happen."

The good news is that last last year tuition at Florida universities went up only 2 percent on average which means the monthly pre-paid tuition could  go down next year.

And even if you already purchased a pre-paid tuition for your child at the higher rate, you can trade it out if the rate goes down next year.

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