College Savings Tips
With college tuition continuing to rise, it is especially important to take the correct financial steps to avoid potential student loan debt. That is why during College Savings Month in September, Broward College is encouraging families to plan ahead for the cost of college with smart saving suggestions.
“It cannot be stressed enough: it is never too soon to start saving for your child’s education, even if you are only able to contribute a small amount each month,” said Russell Dunn, a professor of tax at Broward College. “One of the most popular is with a Florida Prepaid College plan, which can be opened as soon as your child is born.” These programs cover the tuition and fees for varying college plans, including the 2-Year Florida College Plan, 4-Year Florida College Plan, 2+2 Florida Plan for students who transfer from a college to a university, as well as the 4-Year Florida University Plan.
In addition to the Florida prepaid account, Dunn also suggests setting up a 529 College Savings account. This account is open to parents, grandparents or other family members, and all are eligible to open or contribute for as long as they prefer, which is beneficial in financially hard times.
“The 529 accounts are different from the prepaid plans because they are more flexible and can be used for other important college expenses, like a laptop or computer, housing and textbooks,” Dunn says. “The money invested is also not taxed on its growth, unlike a non-taxed advantaged account.”
Another option is the Upromise rewards system by SallieMae that accumulates money through everyday purchases made shopping online and at restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores.
Although the cost of a college education continues to increase, Broward College has one of the lowest tuition rates in the Florida and has also reduced the amount of student loan debt through financial literacy programs, such as the debt management workshop which are mandatory for all first time loan borrowers, as well as students who choose to take out and accept a loan. These comprehensive debt management programs were designed by Broward College not only to reduce student loan debt and avoid excessive borrowing, but also to provide students with tools they will need for a successful financial future, such as budgeting and money management advice. Broward College’s financial aid office also offers advising, as well as scholarships and grants. For more information, visit http://www.broward.edu/financialaid/Pages/default.aspx