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.