Families in Florida can enroll in the state Prepaid College Plan as of today to lock in this year's plan prices on the rising cost of higher education at state schools.
An added benefit: the savings toward their children's education are tax-free.
Florida Prepaid Chairman Deane Ottenstroer said it's something for parents to consider.
"You buy the contract today, your newborn baby enters college 18 years down the road, and this contract is guaranteed to pay for their tuition," she said.
Florida Prepaid offers several plans to accommodate students for two- or four-year programs. The plans cover the cost of tuition and most mandatory fees at Florida's 12 state universities and 28 colleges. The deadline for enrollment is Jan. 31.
Two-thirds of college seniors graduated with outstanding loans in 2010, and on average, they carried a debt of more than $25,000 each, according to the Project on Student Debt..
College education debt can be difficult to repay with current employment options.
"With the way the job market is, even a college education doesn't guarantee you a job. Prepaid tuition allows your children to go to school without incurring any debt, and that's extremely important," Ottenstroer said.
Florida Prepaid recommends families purchase a plan the year their child is born, but plans can be purchased as late as 11th grade. If a student chooses to attend a private college, or out-of-state school, the value of the plan can be applied to any eligible educational institution in the United States. It can also be transferred to another family member.