McRae: Open Enrollment for MPACT Has Begun
By Treasurer David McRae
September is College Savings Month. Enrollment opened on September 1 for families who want to prepay college tuition for a child, grandchild, or loved one. The Mississippi Prepaid College Tuition (MPACT) plan allows families to lock in today’s rates for future college tuition costs.
With inflation skyrocketing, and college tuition costs going up even more than the rate of inflation, now is the time for Mississippi families to lock in rates and save thousands in the future. A college savings plan makes a wonderful gift for any new parents and their newborn, because the earlier families start saving, the more time they have to earn interest and grow their savings.
College costs have increased 160 percent since 1980. Today, between tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses, a college education typically costs families around $27,000 annually for a public, in-state university and $55,000 annually for a private college, according to a 2021 College Board report. As a result, most rely on hefty loans that take years – if not decades – to pay back.
Annual tuition hikes are now the norm, leading U.S. News and World Report to predict that by 2030, annual public university tuition costs could reach $44,000.
Earlier this year, we surveyed Mississippians about whether they knew they could lock in today’s tuition rates, insulate themselves from future price hikes, and begin pre-paying their child’s tuition. Two out of every three Mississippians were unaware. That means we still have work to do! And that’s why we’re using College Savings Month this September to raise awareness and to encourage people to call our office at (601) 359-5255 to learn more.
The Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (MPACT) program has saved hundreds of Mississippi families thousands of dollars on tuition. Perhaps even more importantly, it has put an affordable college experience into the hands of many members of our future workforce. The average Mississippi student graduates with $30,000 of debt. By enrolling in MPACT families can dramatically reduce – and likely eliminate – that decades-long burden. Costs depend on your child’s age. The earlier you begin saving, the lower the costs will be, because your funds will have time to earn interest and grow. Monthly payment plans are available.
And if prepaying tuition in part or altogether is not the best option, there is also the Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) program, which allows you to open a college savings account for as little as $25. Employers, friends, and family members can contribute to accounts to help your child save and prepare for college.
Unlike MPACT, MACS accounts can be opened at any time. MACS accounts can be used to cover tuition, books, supplies, and certain room and board expenses, as well as elementary and secondary tuition expenses for younger students. Regardless of who opens a college savings account for a child, anyone can contribute to that account, including family members, friends, and employers. Gifts to a child’s college savings account make great birthday and holiday gifts and will add up over time while earning interest.
There’s definitely more than one way to pay for college, including scholarships, work-study jobs, paid internships, part time employment, and more, but I encourage all Mississippi families to start a college savings plan as early as possible for our youngest loved ones to help ensure their futures are as bright as they can be. Call our office at (601) 359-5255 or visit Treasury.MS.gov to learn more.