Florida Prepaid victory: Three in college at once, all debt-free

My Mother’s Day gift this year from my youngest was extra special in many ways. My youngest had graduated from Florida State University earlier that month, right on the heels of her two siblings’ graduations from the University of Florida and Flagler College. Her gift to me: A photo collage with each of the three of them at their kindergarten and college graduations! She knew it would have extra meaning to me because I have spent nearly 20 years of my career dedicated to providing greater educational opportunities for all Florida students through the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

Yes, we had three kids in college at the same time and the kindergarten to college years went by in a flash! I am so grateful we purchased Florida Prepaid Plans covering college tuition before they entered school.

I remember jokingly saying we should start putting the money we were spending on diapers into Florida Prepaid Plans as soon as they entered preschool, and we actually ended up doing just that by opening 4-Year University Plans!Mary Chance -- head shot 1

When meeting with a financial planner several years later, she suggested adding 529 plans to help us be even better prepared. She analyzed options nationwide and we ended up right back at Florida Prepaid, one of the best-performing 529 college savings plans in the country. We started saving $50 to $100 a month for each child, and over time it added up – helping us bear the load of living expenses and all the non-tuition costs of college.

It was certainly challenging to navigate the expenses of those “three in college” years, but I am proud to report that our Florida Prepaid savings – along with Bright Futures and other scholarships our children earned – allowed them to graduate debt-free with their Bachelor’s degrees! They also knew from their earliest memories that college was in their future – that as they prepared themselves academically, we were doing our part financially.

The kindergarten and college graduation photos now hang in my office as a daily reminder of this special gift from my daughter. It also reminds me of the lifetime gift we gave each of our children by planning for their college years with Florida Prepaid.

I believe every Florida child deserves to know that college is in their future if they do their part as a student. Kudos to all parents, grandparents and scholarship partners who are making the commitment to make it happen!

Mary Chance is President of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

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