Bill and Betty Sturley relied on Michigan Education Trust (MET) to put their own kids through college. Now, 32 years later, they’re using the same plan for their grandchildren.
MET is Michigan’s Section 529 prepaid tuition plan. The popular program allows parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends of the family to buy future college credits at today’s tuition prices. In fact, a growing number of MET contracts are purchased by grandparents.
The Sturleys were among the first Michigan families to purchase MET contracts when the program was created in 1988.
“We were very frugal when we were raising our kids and scraped up enough money to buy MET contracts for all four of them,” says Bill Sturley, who lives in Southeast Michigan.
“But our son, David, is a self-taught computer expert and never attended college. Even though it’s been three decades, we’re still able to use David’s MET contract and pass it along to one of our granddaughters.”
That control and flexibility are two of the main reasons the Sturleys like MET, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
“MET’s flexibility has been excellent. If your child or grandchild can’t use the contract, they allow you to transfer it to another immediate family member – even in a different generation,” Sturley says.
Grandparents pitching in
More and more often, grandparents are stepping in to ease the financial burden of college for their children – and lessen the crushing weight of future student debt for their grandchildren. According to a 2018 AARP survey, 21% of grandparents today assist with college costs.
As it does every year, MET closed enrollment on Sept. 30 in order to review and adjust pricing. It will open its 2021 enrollment year in December.
MET Executive Director Diane Brewer says the holidays are the perfect time for a grandparent or any family member to open a MET prepaid tuition contract for a loved one.
“No matter your budget, giving the gift of a college education is priceless. It’s never too late – or too early – to start saving,” Brewer says.
MET’s Pay-As-You-Go purchase option is a possible solution for those with tighter budgets. Pay-As-You-Go allows an initial purchase of just a single credit hour worth of tuition. After that, you can add as little as $25 to it whenever you want.
All contracts can be used at Michigan public and private colleges and universities, as well as out-of-state schools. Learn more at MET FAQ.
$100 match, tax deduction
To promote holiday gifting, MET is offering a $100 match and enrollment fee waiver for the first 300 new prepaid tuition contracts for new beneficiaries purchased in December.
“We know that having a college savings account, even a small one, increases the chance of a child attending college. This $100 match is our way of helping families get off on the right foot,” Brewer says.
In addition, those who buy a new contract by Dec. 31 using coupon code HOLIDAY20 or make contributions to existing contracts may be eligible for a deduction on their Michigan tax return.
The Sturleys are grateful to MET for enabling them to provide a legacy of learning for their children and grandchildren.
“I think it’s important to help financially, if that’s possible,” Bill Sturley says. “But also to work with your grandkids to help them explore their career options, take them to engineering or music camp, and do all you can to help them succeed.”