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MET to host webinar about Michigan's college savings plans

By: Kara Szymanski | C&G Newspapers | Published April 5, 2020

 Lott

Lott

METRO DETROIT — April is Financial Literacy Month, and what better way to invest your money than providing a better future for your children with funds to attend college?

By investing in programs that build up funds over time, this dream can become a reality.

The Michigan Education Trust and Michigan Education Savings Program were scheduled to host an in-person event in Shelby Township March 16; however, due to the coronavirus outbreak, per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, all MET sign-up events are on hold, and an online webinar will be held instead. The webinar is called “How to Save for College” and will be held from noon to 1 p.m. April 7. Other dates for the webinar are April 15 and 21 and May 5 and 19. All will take place from noon to 1 p.m. except the April 15 webinar, which will take place from 7 to 8 p.m.

The webinar will offer the opportunity to learn more about Michigan's college savings plans, MET and MESP. Both plans offer flexible features and tax advantages to help save for a loved one’s future college education. 

“We’re always striving to make saving for college as easy as possible for Michigan families and encourage those who haven’t started yet to begin setting at least some money aside,” said Robin Lott, the executive director of MET. 

Lott said even a little bit of investment will go a long way for a child's future.

“Every little bit helps, and every dollar a family saves is a dollar they or their future college student won’t have to borrow,” she said.

The interactive sessions can be accessed via computer at home, and participants can interact with a live presenter via phone. Reservations are required for the webinar, and instructions will be sent to those who register via email.

Registration is available at cc.callinfo.com/r/16odl3wqkwwip.

One major plus to the programs is that people other than parents can contribute to the investment.

“One of the best aspects of Michigan’s 529 plans, aside from their affordability and tax advantages, is the fact that anyone can contribute money to them — including other family members and friends, Lott said.

Also, MET allows contract holders to lock in future college tuition costs at today’s prices. That means if prices go up on the cost of the program, participants will still pay the cost they agreed on, not the new price.

According to MET, MET contracts cover tuition costs and mandatory fees that go along with attending college, which represent 33 percent to 50 percent of the total cost of college.

Getting a trust through MET before May 1 will also save a few bucks. 

On May 1, prices will increase 3 percent for limited-benefits contracts and 5 percent for community college contracts.

According to the Michigan Education Trust Board of Directors, rising fees charged by colleges are the reason for the community college and limited-benefits contract price increases.

Bryan and Carolyn Wright, Wyoming, Michigan, residents, said purchasing MET contracts in 2005 for their sons, Jacob and Nathan, was the best financial decision they have made. Now the Wright boys, 21 and 19 years old, are pursuing engineering degrees at Michigan State University.

“Knowing we locked in the price of tuition and that it was already paid for was a huge sense of relief as the boys were growing up. Thanks to MET, tuition at MSU is half of what it might have been if we hadn’t done it,” Bryan Wright stated in a press release.

Some tips from MET on saving for a child’s college expense are:

• The earlier, the better. Starting a college fund is a primary goal for all parents and caregivers. But families can also have many other financial concerns, such as saving for a down payment on a house or putting money away for retirement.

• With tuition costs projected to go nowhere but up, locking in prices at today’s rates — as MET lets contract purchasers do — is a way to come out ahead financially.

• For those who can’t commit a big chunk of cash to start a college savings account, MET’s Pay-As-You-Go purchase option is a possible solution. Pay-As-You-Go allows an initial purchase of a single credit hour versus an entire semester’s worth of tuition. After that, you can add as little as $25 to it whenever you want.

“Think of it this way: Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to pay today’s price for a new car that you know you intend to purchase 18 years in the future?” said Lott.

MET, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, is a 529 prepaid college tuition plan that locks future tuition at any of the state’s public universities and colleges at today’s rates. MET benefits are used to pay tuition and mandatory fees.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/setwithmet or the facebook event page.