Options for saving for your child’s college education

A world-class education is so important to the success of our students and the success of this state. We are very fortunate that here in Dearborn we have so many dedicated teachers, staff and administrators who understand the crucial role that a quality education plays in Michigan’s future. Our schools have continued to do more with less and I applaud their continued dedication and commitment.

September is College Savings Month in Michigan and with many students
preparing for college and university studies, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some important information about our efforts at the state level to assist in saving for college.

Here in Michigan, the state offers three section 529 plans, which are named after the section of the federal tax code under which they were established.

They are flexible programs that provide families with a way to save for future qualified college expenses. The plans available in our state are the Michigan Education Trust, the Michigan Education Savings Program, and the MI 529 Advisor Plan. Contributions to all three plans are state tax deductible and earnings are tax-exempt when benefits are used for qualified higher education expenses at a qualified higher education institution anywhere in the nation or abroad.

MET is a prepaid tuition program that locks in today’s tuition costs for your child’s future education. You can buy credit hours by semester for Michigan public universities or public community colleges. Credit hours can be bought for up to 10 semesters (five years). Students have 15 years to use the tuition benefits. MET is managed and administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury. For more information, go to www.setwithmet.com.

MESP is a flexible way to help families save for their children’s higher education expenses. MESP offers a choice of seven investment options and low fees. The funds in the account can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and certain room and board costs.

MESP is managed and administered by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. which manages nine state 529 plans across the country. For more information, go to www.misaves.com.

MAP is a component of the MESP program and allows families and others to work through a broker or financial planner to save and invest for qualified higher education expenses. Working with a financial advisor or broker, will allow you to create a college savings portfolio by selecting among 20 investment options. MAP is managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. and administered
by Allianz Global Investors. For more information, go to www.mi529advisor.com.

The office of Federal Student Aid also provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college or career school. Federal Student Aid is part of the U.S. Department of Education and offers more than $150 billion each year to help students pay for higher education. More information can be found by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov.

It is no secret that a college education offers more opportunities for success and the possibility of higher income. In fact, according to the College Board (www.collegeboard.com), a college graduate could potentially make as much as $1 million more throughout his or her working life time than a high school graduate. With the cost of college rising, planning ahead for your student’s academic future is very important and these three programs can be very useful tools for doing so.

(State Rep. George Darany represents the 15th House District. To contact him, call 855-775-1515 or e-mail him at georgetdarany@
house.mi.gov. To sign up for his e-newsletter, go to his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)