The deadline for 2017 open enrollment for the Florida Prepaid College Plans is Tuesday, February 28th.
With tuition rates skyrocketing, families know it's important to start saving early.
"You need to start really young or you're not going to be able to have any money," said Sandy Oelschlaeger, a Tampa grandparent.
But when you are living paycheck to paycheck it can seem impossible. However, there are some affordable options.
Florida Prepaid College Plans allow you to lock rates for tomorrow's tuition at a Florida college or university at today's rates. It allows you to select from options with specific costs, payment schedules and benefits.
The 1-Year Florida University Plan is the most flexible plan. The 1-Year Florida University Plan can be purchased in incremental years and allows for multiple plan purchasers, so friends or family members can help make up the difference.
For a newborn baby, locking in today's rates for the 1-year Florida University Plan would cost a family about $46/month until the year 2035.
However, it's something you need to commit to paying every month.
"They want you to make that amount every month, the amount, whatever the amount is," said Shams Khan, CPA, CFP, based in Wesley Chapel.
The 1-Year Florida University Plan is designed to be used at a Florida College or State University, but the amount covered by the plan can also be applied to other schools nationwide.
Second, there’s the Florida 529 Savings Plan that allows you to choose from investment options and to decide just how much and how often you contribute. You can have both a 529 plan and a Florida Prepaid College Plan.
The biggest difference between the two is that the Florida 529 Savings Plan is subject to fluctuations in the financial markets, while the Florida Prepaid College Plan is guaranteed by the State of Florida.
"If you are uncertain about the commitment (of the Florida Prepaid College Plans) then the 529 plan is the way to go. because there you can contribute whatever you want and you can stop whenever you want," Khan said.
You can enroll in a Prepaid Plan now through February 28, 2017, and there is no payment due until April 20, 2017.
There is no deadline for the Florida 529 Savings Plan, Khan said, but it's important to start it as early as possible.
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