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State treasurer visits Luverne

Special to the Journal

State Treasurer Kay Ivey recently visited Luverne to encourage citizens to participate in Alabama's two college savings programs--the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) Program and the Alabama Higher Education 529 Fund.

"If you haven't written a check for college tuition in a few years, you will experience sticker shock to find out just how much four years of college cost today," stated Ivey. "Four years of tuition at Alabama or Auburn today cost over $20,000. It is so important for families to begin saving now to meet the challenge of paying for future college expenses."

Through the PACT program, a contract may be purchased to repay 135 hours of tuition and eight semesters of qualified fee payments at any Alabama public college or university for children in the ninth grade or below. PACT may also be used at private or out-of-state institutions based on a weighted average of state tuition costs. Flexible plans are available to pay for the contract that is priced according to the age of the student.

"PACT is based on a simple concept-pay today for tomorrow's tuition," said Ivey. "You can enroll this year for as little as $183 a month." Enrollment is open through September.

The newer Higher Education 529 Fund, sponsored by the State of Alabama and professionally managed by Van Kampen Investments, allows investors to contribute to an individual account within the 529 Trust Fund. Investors choose from several investment options and later use the investment results of that particular account to pay for college expenses in addition to tuition and fees, such as room and board and books.

Contributions to Higher Education 529 Fund account can also be used to pay for graduate school expenses, as well as undergraduate costs. Individuals can enroll at any time with as little as $250, or $25 a month. Investing in the direct-sold product provides Alabama residents special incentives such as lower minimum contributions, and no transaction and enrollment fees.

"I tell parents and grandparents all the time that saving for college is more than an investment in a child's college education-it's an investment in their dreams," Ivey noted.

For more information on PACT and the Higher Education 529 Fund, call the State Treasurer's Office toll-free at 1-800-252-7228 or log on to the Treasury website at www.treasury.alabama.gov.