Securing In-State Tuition

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Four years on campus can be costly.

So mother of two Sheila Cornfield put her money in MET more than 10 years ago and locked in low in-state tuition prices for her kids.

"It's worked out great for my family," the East Lansing mother says. "My daughter just graduated in December, and I think the benefit we received was double."

"MET's a pre-paid college tuition program," explains MET financial analyst Dalynne Preston. "There are three different types of contracts: full benefits, limited benefits and community college benefits."

Preston says you can either put money in a trust in one lump sum-- but that's $42,000-- or over a number of years (between four and 15). And when your student goes to college, the money's applied to an in-state public school.

"If a student decides to go out of state, there's a refund amount available to the out of state college," she says.

But it wouldn't likely cover all the tuition. And if you move out of state and want to go to a Michigan school, MET only will cover what the in-state tuition would be.

MET representatives are advising people, if interested, to lock in low prices now. On February 1, 2009, the $42,000-plus tuition will jump to $44,000-plus tuition for four years.

But if you're looking to save some extra money these days like everyone is, not everybody agrees that the MET program is the best way to save you dollars.

"We haven't advised a lot of clients to be involved with the MET plan," says Raymond James financial advisor Doug Adler. "Certainly everyone should do their own calculations, but by our pencil, the rate of return is not overly attractive."

He says you can maybe make better returns by finding an investment plan on your own.

Adler says a 529 college savings could fit that bill. It can be used problem-free in any state and you can control where you invest those funds, though MET has some upsides, he says.

"For someone who doesn't work with a professional, the MET might be a good idea," Adler says.

Either way, all parties agree: Planning for college, no matter the avenue, is a must.

Saturday at 10 a.m. representatives from MET will be at the Capital Area District Library answering questions about new MET contracts.


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