By Heather Barthelmes, Michigan Education Trust
February 2, 2021
If I have learned anything over the last year, it is that uncertainty is guaranteed. My 5-year-old son was sent home from kindergarten with an unknown return to school date. Now, we are doing first grade from home and are still uncertain when he will go back to the school building. Like many, we have canceled vacations and have no idea when we will be able to reschedule. Add the uncertainty around health and employment for ourselves and family members and the stress of this uncertain time can be overwhelming. With everything going on, I have been looking for ways to guard against some of life’s uncertainties.
I may not know what higher education will look like in the future, but I’m pretty sure my son will pursue some sort of post-high school education and it will cost money. So I plan on doing what I can now to make sure my son is set for the future.
With a prepaid tuition plan, I have gained some peace-of-mind. A 529 prepaid tuition plan allows for the pre-purchase of college credits based on today’s prices. The prepaid plan will then pay out at future tuition costs. While most prepaid plans work best to pay for tuition and mandatory fees at in-state public colleges and universities, there are ways to use prepaid plans at private colleges, out-of-state schools, and trade schools. So whatever route my son may take, he will have a way to pay for school, and I will have peace of mind.
There are currently 10 prepaid tuition plans offered by 9states and the Private College 529 Plan, including the one we offer in Michigan — the Michigan Education Trust (MET). Each plan has its own rules, but the idea of prepaying college tuition is the same.
The value of most prepaid plans is based on tuition inflation, not the stock market. The great benefit of that is if the price of college doubles or the market takes a turn right before my son is ready to head off to college, it won’t impact my ability to pay for his tuition. I also have flexibility in how I fund his account. With the pay-as-you-go payment option, I was able to open my account by purchasing just one credit hour. I can also make contributions into his account anytime, in any amount of $25 or more. Each time I put money into his prepaid plan, I am buying credits or fractions of credits and can fund it at a level that fits my budget and timeline. This flexibility has made MET a great fit into my family’s college savings strategy. Many prepaid plans have flexible payment plans as well as guarantees. Be sure to check out the details of what your prepaid plan offers before making a decision.
I know the next twelve years will bring many more ups and downs, but at least I know I have a plan in place for my son’s future that helps give me peace of mind.
About the Author
Heather Barthelmes is the Marketing Manager at the Michigan Education Trust (MET). MET is Michigan’s 529 prepaid tuition plan. Since 1988, more than 113,000 MET contracts have been purchased. Today nearly 10,000 students are using their MET benefits at Michigan public colleges and universities, private colleges, and out-of-state schools. Learn more at SETwithMET.com.