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Analysts: It's a Year for Holiday Saving, Not Spending

December 17, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It won't wear out, get lost or broken; it doesn't require batteries; and kids can't outgrow it. It's the Florida College Investment Plan, a 529 tax-exempt college savings plan, and it matches the advice given recently by Wall Street Journal analysts. Those experts encourage families to try holiday saving - instead of spending - this year, in light of the tough economy.

Dwayne Ottenstroer, chair of the Florida Prepaid College Board, says if Florida families saved for college the $600 they usually spend on holiday gifts, they could have close to $8,000 in just 10 years.

"This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving. The value of a college education in terms of future earning ability is in excess of a million dollars."

Many financial planners recommend opening 529 plans for each child, which gives family and friends a chance to contribute to education in a tax-exempt way. Ottenstroer says a plan can be opened for as little as $250, or with a bank draft of $25 a month.

Ottenstroer says the Florida College Investment plan works hand-in-hand with another college preparation option: the Florida Pre-paid plan.

"The Pre-paid program locks in the tuition price, which in today's environment is really important, but the investment plan can be used to supplement the other expenses that are not tuition expenses."

Open enrollment for the Florida Pre-paid plan ends on Jan. 31, 2010.

More informaton is available at www.myfloridaprepaid.com or by calling 1-800-552-GRAD(4723).

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL