Why Put Off Investing in Your Child’s Education?

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

Have you visited a local organic farm?

When I visited four of them as part of a regional “farm tour,” I was reminded of several principles that it is easy to lose sight of, like respecting the time it takes to grow something nutritious.

This is Philip, who hosted our tour of Orchard Pond Organics:

Higher Education Financing

Philip was no run-of-the-mill tour guide. He was a captivating combination of farmer and philosopher, emphasizing life truths like, “when a crop fails it isn’t bad as long as we learn something from it [true].”

The Fish Story

One local partnership Philip mentioned was the farm’s relationship with Southern Seafood Market, a local business.

Philip: “We get fish from there.”

Me (in my head): Hm, Okay.

Philip: And then it sits for a year.

Me (still in my head): That’s a long time.

Philip: And then it makes for one incredible fertilizer.

Me (internally, as a mental light bulb goes off): AHHHHH.

Nurturing a Child’s Educational Options Takes Time

We all have high hopes for our children’s educational future when they are born.

Bringing these hopes to life involves planning on our part. That freshman year seems to arrive so rapidly, after we’ve barely put away the grade school mementoes and cheered for that final grade school ball game/band concert/art display.

Like the fish at Orchard Pond Organics, we have to invest …. and wait.

This is Where Florida Prepaid Comes In

Florida Prepaid offers two options to save money to make it possible for a child in your life to go to college, with the funds being tax-free as long as they are spent on qualified costs like tuition and fees: prepaid and savings.

There are five pre-paid plans, each with specific costs, payment schedules and benefits which all include tuition and other specified fees at 28 Florida Colleges and 12 State Universities. (To answer one common question: the funds can be used outside of Florida. My daughter is using her Florida Prepaid at Valdosta State University in Georgia.) Find answers to other common questions here.

Open Enrollment is October 15, 2017 through February 28, 2018

Open enrollment for Florida Prepaid opens today, October 15, 2017, and will last through February 28, 2018 (payments won’t be due until April 2018)!

(You can enroll in a 529 plan year-round.)

“But I’m on the Fence”

I totally understand this. I have been transparent about the fact that my position “on the fence” was eliminated when my parents generously bought both of my children prepaid plans when they were infants (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

I chatted with a few friends who shared concerns they have heard (or believe themselves) about Florida Prepaid. In case you have the same questions, here is my attempt to answer. (These answers pertain to Florida Prepaid vs 529 plans — I am happy to help you find answers to 529 questions too.)

What if my child gets a scholarship?

If your child receives a scholarship, you can get a refund for the same amount as the plan would pay  a public college or university in Florida.

What if my child goes to school out of state? It’s so hard to predict what a 3-year-old (or whatever age) is going want when they are 18.

Plans are designed to be used at a Florida College or State University but the amount covered by the plan can also be applied at other schools nationwide or at private colleges and universities in Florida.

Dave Ramsey doesn’t like Prepaid Plans (this is his rationale).

I respect Dave Ramsey immensely and if I had done 5% of what he suggests, my personal financial future would be much brighter right now. However, his suggestion that I invest “… the $10,000 in a growth stock mutual fund ESA where your money grows tax free” poses the flawed logic for me that I don’t have $10,000 to invest. I don’t know many other parents who do either.

There are Special Opportunities Happening Right Now!

A Chance to Win a Scholarship

From now until October 29, you can win a chance to be one of 10 recipients of a 2-Year Florida College Plan scholarship. You can enter daily. Here’s the link.

Also, you can save $25 off your $50 application fee by using code GREEN1718.

A Chance to Get Your Entire Contract Paid Off!

Anyone who purchases a Florida Prepaid College Plan between Oct. 15 and Nov. 30, 2017 will be automatically entered to “win the gift of college” from the Florida Prepaid College Board (FPCB), with the selected Plan purchaser’s entire Plan being paid off in full by FPCB. Also eligible will be pended Plan enrollments, which become active on October 15.

How Do I Get More Information?

I get it. There’s a lot to sort through and the choices can be confounding.

Here’s my advice: START SOMEWHERE.

Remember that saving early for college is proven to make a positive difference long-term.

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Consider investing in at least a year. 

The 1-year Florida University Plan is the only option that allows families to save for a child’s postsecondary education one year at a time, starting at less than $50 a month.

The 1-year plan also allows families to share in the cost of college, with different family members each saving toward one or more of the four years.

It’s a great time to sow seeds of security for your child’s educational future. Visit Florida Prepaid on the web or call 1.800.552.GRAD (4723).

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A Heartfelt #StartingIsBelieving Conversation

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

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Oh, Valentine’s Day. ALL the fun of candy, love in the air, and did I mention candy?

On the way to becoming the treats we all know, love, and share on Valentine’s Day, fave candies like Conversation Hearts undergo quite the interesting transformation before becoming sweet messengers.

In this slideshow, Necco explains the process of creating conversation hearts. It takes six steps. Similarly, the process of preparing to fund our children’s higher education costs takes more than one step. Let’s take a look at those steps as the deadline to enroll in a Florida Prepaid plan approaches.

Conversation Hearts, College Funding: Six Steps

Assembling Individual Ingredients

For conversation hearts, the manufacturer begins with sugar, color, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, and gums (maybe I just won’t think too hard about those gums!).

When our children are born, they have all the individual ingredients that will eventually serve them in college. Intellect, energy, motivation.

Creating The Blob

Looking at the second step in the conversation heart process, you would never know all that amorphous blobby mound is going to turn into something so adorable and tempting.

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From the NECCO website

For me at least, there have been so many times as my son worked his way through grades K-12 that I wondered “is there hope of this kid making it to higher education?” It doesn’t bode well when games win out over homework 85% of the time.

Sheeting

In the third step, machines press the dough until it’s flat.

We need to be that pressing machine for our children’s futures: forcing ourselves to make a plan for their college education. This involves making hard choices, perhaps giving up some discretionary income that could lead to immediate family fun.

Cutting and Stamping

This must be where the fun begins. The dough is cut into hearts, and the messages are applied!

Those of us who care for children in Florida have an opportunity to shape them and share messages that will impact their futures. 

The Drying Tunnel

After being cut and shaped, the conversation hearts remain in a drying tunnel for 30 minutes.

As I have written before, I am SO fortunate my parents bought my children Florida Prepaid plans when they were infants. A (relatively) modest expenditure almost 20 years ago has given my kids an opportunity to get college educations with the tuition paid for. Like the conversation hearts in the drying tunnel, the money had to sit there, doing nothing, in order to turn into something powerful later on.

Blending the Flavors

Once the hearts are pressed, cut, and dried, it’s time to combine all the colors for a spectrum of deliciousness.

I can’t say we are out of the woods yet with my high school senior, but the same kid who “forgot about history fair” for literally MONTHS between the start of school in August until the night before the due date in January early in his high school career *may* have found his groove and the realization that higher education can make a difference in his future. All those raw ingredients may indeed be coming together into a multi-dimensional kid with a plan (yay).

Packing

Finally, the conversation hearts are packaged into those iconic little boxes (among other packaging options) and transported to stores where they are sold and find their way into Valentine’s celebrations nationwide.

The thirteen years between the day we send our babies off to kindergarten and the day they cross that stage to accept their high school diplomas sure don’t seem that long. Before we know it, they are off to convey their own messages in their own way.

But About That College Funding

Yes, it’s fun to talk about turning a blob of sugar, cornstarch (and yes, gums) into conversation  hearts … but my goal is to draw a parallel between that process and the process of getting our kids to college, especially how to pay to get our kids to college.

A Florida Prepaid College Plan is an ultra-affordable way to give your child (and yourself) the security of knowing a college education with no debt (or at least less debt) is in their future.

Open Enrollment Ends February 28!

The 2016-17 open enrollment period ends on February 28, so time is short to invest in a Florida Prepaid Plan.

Some reminders of why Florida Prepaid is such a great choice:

  • Every Prepaid Plan is guaranteed by the State of Florida, so you will never lose your investment.
  • Prepaid Plans work nationwide. Even if your child attends an out-of-state or private college, the plan will pay the same amount as it would pay at a public college or university in Florida. Our daughter uses her Florida Prepaid at Valdosta State University.
  • If your child earns a scholarship, you have options regarding your plan. You can get a refund for the same amount as the plan would pay a public college or university in Florida.
  • Plans are flexible time-wise. Your child has up to 10 years after his or her year of projected enrollment to use the plan.

Are you the kind of person who tells your loved one you’ll celebrate on the day after a holiday so you can get the goodies 50% off? Well, with prepaid, you have to enroll by February 28 but the good news is you can save the 50% off now! Use the code BLOG1617 and save 50% off the $50 application fee.

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About Florida Prepaid

Visit the Florida Prepaid College Plan by clicking here for information. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, please call 800-552-GRAD (4723).

Ten Florida Families to Win College Scholarships

Prepaid College TuitionNever will another Florida State University student spend their freshman year where I did: coping with the thrills, disappointments and sheer journey into the unknown brought on by spending the year in Kellum Hall. Kellum Hall has been razed. A patch of gravel (pictured above) is all that is left on the footprint of a place where many of my friends and I experienced that critical freshman year.

The ten winners of the Florida Prepaid Scholarship Giveaway will have to start freshman year somewhere rather than Kellum, but the good news is they will start freshman year knowing they have the financial jump-start of a 2-year Florida College Plan, valued at more than $8,000, courtesy of the Florida Prepaid College Board.

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I’ll share the details of how to enter (it’s simple!), but if the idea of the Florida Prepaid Program is new to you, a brief comment about why it’s so incredible.

About Saving for College and Why College Matters

According to the How America Saves for College 2016 report, only 2 out of 5 families have a plan to pay for college — even though a postsecondary degree is more necessary than ever for career success. According to state projections, 59 percent of all jobs in Florida will require postsecondary education by 2018.

If you are not as prepared to fund your child’s education as you hoped to be, this does not reflect a lack of love for your child or children. Instead, it puts you in the majority, among the 3 out of 5 families without a plan to pay for college.

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To celebrate National College Savings Month, why not enter this contest for a chance to give your child a powerful head start?

It worked out well for this family, who won a scholarship from last year’s contest:

How to Enter

When: Register between now and October 23

Where: Click here to enter (remember you can enter daily)

What You Can Win: In addition to registering to win one of the ten 2-year plans, when you click on the entry link, you can earn extra entries by answering questions, learning more about saving for college, and sharing on social media. There will also be chances to win a total of 50 weekly prizes.

Eligibility: Open to legal residents in the state of Florida with children or grandchildren between the ages of newborn through 8th grade.

Beyond the contest period, prepaid plans will be available for purchase throughout open enrollment, which begins October 15, 2016, and ends February 28, 2017.

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This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.