By Linda Fernandez, Director of the Educational Opportunities and Investment Division, Texas Comptroller’s Office
July 3, 2018
Have you ever done anything by instinct without much thought that seemed somewhat brilliant in retrospect? That’s how I felt when I enrolled in a brand new state-offered program that I knew little about to assist my husband and I in paying our then 3-year old daughter’s future college expenses. That was back in 1996 when prepaid tuition plans were the new kids on the block. I set up a payroll deduction and after a while I didn’t even notice the amount coming out monthly. It was as routine as paying for my utilities or insurance.
As our daughter grew older and college grew closer and increasingly more expensive, I thanked my lucky stars every day that I had done it! Even more importantly than allaying the impact of ever-increasing college costs, the benchmark that she would attend and graduate from college had been established when she was only three years old. While we would often talk with her about which college, what major…there was never any discussion about whether she would go to college. No matter what the future held for us financially, there was certainty that we would send our daughter to college. I slept better at night.
Our daughter rewarded our commitment by graduating with honors from an outstanding Texas private university debt free. She went on to graduate from law school with honors. We now have two precious grandchildren and we are giving them the life-changing gift of prepaid tuition contracts. Their parents tell me they sleep better at night knowing their children will have the same opportunity to attend college without graduating in debt.
It’s easy to get so intimidated by college costs that it can seem overwhelming to begin saving. My experience taught me that I could bite it off in affordable chunks to accomplish my goal. It took me almost 10 years to pay off my daughter’s contract, but I got there by her senior year in high school. I still remember the day that contract was paid in full. Most plans today allow up to 18 years, 216 months, to pay off a contract for a newborn child. They offer flexible payment options that can be adjusted over time to fit the purchaser’s budget. If you are considering opening a prepaid tuition or college savings account, the sooner you act, the more affordable it will be.
Trust me, you’ll sleep better at night.
About the Author
Linda Fernandez is the Director of the Educational Opportunities and Investment Division of the Texas Comptroller’s office. The division provides support to the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board, chaired by the Comptroller, that is responsible for administering the states’ prepaid tuition plans, college savings plans and ABLE program: the Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan, the Texas Tuition Promise Fund®, the direct-sold Texas College Savings Plan®, the advisor-sold LoneStar 529 Plan®, and the Texas ABLE® Program. The Board oversees more than 240,000 accounts and $2 billion in assets. The division also provides support to the Texas Match the Promise FoundationSM that has awarded 458 scholarships totaling $543,500 to beneficiaries of the Texas Tuition Promise Fund. Visit https://comptroller.texas.gov/programs/education/ for more information.