Enrollment period for Fla. prepaid college program begins Friday

Prepaid option can be still financially straining

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the cost of college tuition continues to increase, paying now is one option to keep the price of college low for Florida families. However, even the prepaid option can be still financially straining.

The thought of having college paid off before a student even takes their first step on campus is ideal for a family preparing to send their child off to school.

"Prepaid or the 529, if it's specifically for college is going to be your best bet," said financial planner Terri Jackson. "There are a lot of tax advantages."

The cost of tuition in Florida has increased 60 percent over the last five years. The cost of putting money aside for college has, too. The state's prepaid plan has jumped to just under $54,000 for a newborn.

"You get a very set payment schedule and when you're finished with those payments, you're guaranteed your child will be able to attend college," said Kevin Thompson, Executive Director of Florida Prepaid College Plans.

Jackson said the program is great for families who are able to afford it.

"Do the best that you can," said Jackson. "Any amount of money that you can put aside is going to be great."

Jackson was quick to add that the economy has made it difficult for families to put back for their children's education.

"A lot of people are just having a hard time working that into their budget," Jackson said.

The plan doesn't force a student to attend a Florida school. If they go out of state, they will only receive the amount they would for in-state tuition.

"The plans that we sell, we have plans for every one of those colleges and universities in Florida," said Thompson.

One drawback to the plan is if your child doesn't go to college, you get your money back but no interest.

The enrollment period for the prepaid program kicks off Friday and runs through the end of February.

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