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2014 Grads, Can You Still Prepay For College?

Advocates of prepaid tuition plans call them "peace of mind programs" and say they still offer that comfort ... But some programs have run into trouble after investments lost money in the market downturn in 2008-09 and tuition rose faster than expected.

Spring graduations are right around the corner! For all of the 2014 grads, what's the plan after graduation? If college is in the mix, it's time to sort out those tuitions costs. Is it wise to prepay if you can?

USA Today published an article a while back worth repeating in case you missed it. Titled "Prepaid college tuition plans: Know this before you invest," the article explored the notion of prepaid college tuition plans whereby you pay now to minimize the rising cost of tuition. The article states that tuition has increased an average 7% annually since 1990 and continues to climb. However, what has reversed is both the endorsement of experts regarding these plans and ability of states to guarantee the funds.

A prepaid tuition plan allows families to buy future tuition credits at current prices; if you buy shares worth one semester's tuition when your child is young, those shares should always be worth one semester's tuition regardless of how much rates rise.

Many states have ended their plans or changed them as their budget deficits grew. Facing shortfalls, some states bumped up prices by charging larger premiums above the cost of current tuition. And some available plans don't offer guarantees.

College financing experts quoted in the article tell parents and students to review the specifics of their state's plan carefully. But advocates of the tuition plans call them "peace of mind programs" and say they still offer that comfort.

Speak with your estate planning attorney to see if this or another strategy is recommended for your specific circumstances.

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