Governor Bob Martinez and his wife and two daughters

A governor’s gift to his grandchildren — and all Floridians


The recent inauguration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has us thinking about the impact a state leader can make: history proves that a lot can be accomplished with fresh insights, bold initiatives, and the drive to improve lives for Florida families.

For us, that line of thinking always takes us back to 30 years ago, when then-Governor Bob Martinez put his bold vision of affordable college for all Floridians into action.

“I felt strongly that working-class families should have an opportunity to have their children go to college and that they would be able to afford it,” said Martinez, who works at Holland & Knight in Tampa.

When the state launched Florida Prepaid in 1998, at the urging of our founding champion Stanley G. Tate, Gov. Martinez put his confidence in the program on public display by purchasing plans for his young twin granddaughters, making them Prepaid’s first two beneficiaries.

“That’s the value of prepaid tuition,” he said. “You don’t have to wait till they’re 18. You can start immediately to secure your children’s future.”

Those granddaughters grew up knowing that they would go to college. Lydia Harrell described the “confidence and assurance” that she felt about her future education while growing up.

“I could just go into the working world without having debt. That was huge,” Harrell said.

Her sister, Emily Keen, recalls feeling a similar sense of relief from Florida Prepaid — in this case, when her education was behind her.

“I was originally an environmental scientist, and the job I took was very low-paying salary,” she said. “And I was able to make ends meet with that salary because I wasn’t in debt. If I had had any student loans to pay off, that would have been impossible.”

Florida Prepaid is the largest and longest-running prepaid program in the nation, having helped more than 460,000 students attend college.

Harrell and Keen aren’t just grateful to their grandfather for securing their college. They’re proud of him for making it possible for all Floridians to make and fulfill a promise to their children: the promise of a full education.

“He wants everyone to have an equal opportunity to go to school,” Harrell said. “He made that happen for us.

“He made it happen for everyone in Florida.”

Florida Prepaid’s 30th Open Enrollment runs from February 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019. Have questions? We’ve got answers! Explore our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about our Prepaid Plans and Savings Plan. And click here to start your savings now!

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