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New Plan Means New Way to Pay for Florida Colleges

January 19, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott has declared war on Florida's unemployment with his "let's get to work" slogan, promising to create new jobs. Florida has 19 colleges, formerly called community colleges, all striving to meet the growing demand for educated workers. It's estimated that, by 2014, there will be a need for more than 13 million workers with four-year, workforce-related degrees.

Duane Ottenstroer, chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Board, says they're helping families pay for those degrees with a new Four-Year Florida College Plan.

"What the Florida College system does is, it makes it far more affordable for a lot of Florida families. We're excited that for about $16,000, individuals – or grandparents or parents – can purchase a four-year tuition program."

Ottenstroer says enrollment in Florida's colleges has grown 25 percent over the last few years, and the schools are now offering a choice of 120 bachelor's degrees.

"For many degrees, the Florida college system is going to be a very good alternative. They are primarily occupation-oriented degrees – degrees in nursing, degrees in management."

The four-year college plan, like all the Florida pre-paid plans, locks in the price of tuition, he adds.

"Tuition has been one of the fastest-growing expenses, and to be able to lock that cost in and know that your child is going to be able to attend a Florida school and not have to borrow money for tuition is just a very great burden off families."

Ottenstroer says payments can be as little as $99 a month, depending on the age of the child, and families only need a $50 deposit to get started by the January 31 deadline. For more information, visit www.myfloridaprepaid.com or call 1-800-552-GRAD.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - FL