When the older of her two daughters entered kindergarten, Amy figured it was the ideal time to start planning for another milestone: college.
She decided to use the money that was no longer going toward Nola’s daycare to purchase Michigan Education Trust (MET) prepaid tuition contracts for her and her younger sister, Iris.
“All of the sudden here was all this money I was no longer spending, and it just seemed logical to take that and use it for something else kid-focused,” said Amy, a Mid-Michigan graphic artist.
And, with tuition costs steadily increasing year by year, it also seemed sensible to lock in rates at current levels, she said. So when she learned about MET, she knew she’d found the perfect match for her college-savings goals.
MET, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, is celebrating its 30th year in 2018 as the nation’s first prepaid tuition program. In a nutshell, the program allows families to buy future tuition at Michigan public universities and colleges at today’s prices.
“I just really liked the idea of locking it in at the lower rate,” Amy said. “Think of it this way: When it comes time to pay tuition in eight years, I’ll essentially be paying what it costs now regardless of how much tuition has increased. In what other situation in life can you do something like that?”
Amy and her former husband are splitting the costs of MET contracts that will cover four years of college tuition for Nola, 10, and Iris, 8. They’re buying them over a 10-year period by making monthly payments, one of three ways to purchase MET prepaid tuition. The others are lump-sum purchases of at least a semester’s worth of tuition and the pay-as-you-go option, which allows families to initially purchase a single credit hour and then acquire additional tuition in $25 or more increments.
Amy’s college-savings strategy also incorporates the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP), another Michigan Department of Treasury-administered 529 plan, which allows purchasers to save tax-free in various investment options. She encourages friends and family members to contribute to the accounts during gift-giving occasions to accumulate savings for the girls’ future room and board and incidental college expenses.
As an added bonus, contributions to both MET and MESP accounts are deductible on Michigan tax returns in the tax year they are made.
Amy views MET and its tuition guarantee as a risk-free way to ensure that her daughters’ tuition costs are covered. The contract purchases also fulfill her commitment to ensuring that the girls have the opportunity for a higher education.
“I was the only person in my family to graduate from college, and I wanted to instill that appreciation for education in my daughters,” she said. “I want the opportunity to be open for them whether they eventually want to take advantage of it or not.”
More information about the Michigan Education Trust is available at SETwithMET.com or 800-MET-4-KID.