Private College 529 plan offers “tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices”

Megan Hays, Senior Writer

The University joined Private College 529 Plan at the end of the Fall 2017 semester, after a few years of consideration and a number of prospective families showing interest. Private College 529 Plan first launched in September 2003 and gives tuition benefits to students and their families.

“Families can buy tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices in the form of tuition certificates that can be redeemed at participating colleges and universities,” Director of Financial Aid Andrea Leithner Stauffer said. The University is one of the nearly three hundred other private colleges involved in the program.

Congress passed a law in 1996 allowing states to implement plans to help families afford a college education for their children. Many financial officers at private colleges believed that they should be doing everything in their power to help families afford a private college education. Congress amended the law, enabling “colleges and their consortia” to implement a prepaid tuition plan under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. After years of legality and regulatory issues, a private-sponsored prepaid tuition plan was initiated.

“Families who participate in Private College 529 are those who want to preserve the broadest range of options for their future student, including private higher education. They want to plan and save as much as they can to pay for the cost of college for their children and avoid debt for their students and themselves,” President of Private College 529 Nancy Farmer said.

Students and their families can “lock in” the cost of tuition and fees without worrying about the increase in tuition costs projected to occur by the time their children are enrolled, potentially saving thousands of dollars by paying in advance. The plan charges zero fees, protects from market risk, and gives the same federal tax benefits as state 529 plans, helping to reduce loans and debt in the future.

“Think of it as buying a 2028 car at 2018 prices,” Farmer said.

Participation in the program does not guarantee admission into any of the Universities. If a participant is not accepted, families may either select another beneficiary, move the account into another state-sponsored 529 plan, or obtain a refund.

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