MACON--- Responding to a national call to make higher education more affordable and more accessible to students, Mercer University has joined more than 200 other private colleges and universities across the country to offer an income tax-advantaged way for families to save on tuition.
It's called the Independent 529 Plan, and it's a new prepaid college tuition plan tailored specifically for private colleges. The plan enables a parent to purchase a certificate for part or all of tuition that can be used at any participating college. The parent pays today's prices, less a discount that reduces the cost even further. Then, years later, they redeem the certificate for guaranteed amount of tuition.
"We see this new plan as part of our ongoing effort to make higher education accessible to families," said Carol Williams, associate vice president of student financial planning at Mercer. "This plan offers families a unique opportunity to freeze college tuition rates, which means more students will have a chance to receive a top-notch Mercer education in the future."
Section 529 Plans, so named for the IRS code that defines them, have gained popularity over the last decade. Families have been attracted to these plans because accounts generate no federal income tax if used as intended, benefits are transferable to other members of the family, certificates are usable at any participating school in the consortium and refunds are available if the student receives a scholarship or decides not to attend college.
For purchasers, the effectiveness of the Independent 529 Plan is not dependent on the performance of the stock or bond markets. Rather, contributions are actually pre-purchasing tuition, in part or in whole, at less than today's prices.
The purchase of a tuition certificate does not guarantee admission or enrollment at a participating institution. Students must meet entrance standards at the institution they choose to attend. For more information on the Independent 529 Plan, visit www.independent529plan.org or contact the Mercer University Office of Financial Planning at (478) 301-2670.