Florida Prepaid changes go into effect this month

Florida parents may want to cash in on the Florida Prepaid College Program. House Bill 851, effective July 1, 2014, allows for families who use the plan to reap new rate reduction benefits. Parents will see a 40 to 50 percent decrease in monthly payment rates.

Shannon Colvecchio, public relations counselor of Florida Prepaid, said parents should have seen decreases from Sept. 20.

According to the Florida Prepaid website, the bill will save parents who use the program an estimated $700 million in tuition and fees.

Parents who have paid in full are eligible for refunds to be dispersed within four to six weeks. The College Board has also introduced a new plan that, Colvecchio says, is their most affordable offer yet.

The new plan allows families to pay at their own starting at $43 monthly.

According to Colvecchio, the main reason the rates dropped is to make “college savings accessible.”

Nia Henderson, a fourth-year business administration student from Hollywood, Fla., said she appreciates the benefits the program has had on her life.

“Being a recipient of Florida Prepaid opened my eyes about the financial demand of college,” Henderson said. “I was fortunate to have parents that cared enough about my education… even before I knew what college really was.”

She added: “Yes I would've been able to attend a four year university but money would be extremely tight. That $500-$1000 every school year really helps.”

Breanna Peterson, a Florida A&M alumna, says her family bought into the program when she was in fifth grade to save money on tuition increases. Until now, the Florida Prepaid program rates accounted for yearly rate increases. House Bill 851 does not only affect Florida Prepaid users. The bill will also halt tuition cost increases for all Florida colleges and universities except University of Florida and Florida State University.

Morris Miller, Tallahassee resident and father of five- three of which currently attend Florida State University, said he chose not to use Florida Prepaid for other reasons.

“At the time, I didn’t know that my children would go to college in state,” Miller said. “But I figured, if they did, we would put away money on our own and encourage them to dual enroll and do well enough to qualify or Bright Futures [Florida Bright Futures Scholarship].”

Miller does add that the rate changes and Florida Bright Futures scale back have made him consider buying into the program for his youngest son, a Childs High School junior.

Today, more than 100,000 families use the program.