Florida Prepaid Program defers all payments until July

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Move comes after program reduced prices and refunded many existing customers.

Parents won’t need to pay into Florida Prepaid until July.

As the COVID-19 pandemic challenges families, officials Florida Prepaid College Savings Plans deferred payments for April, May and June.

The move will help longtime plan-holders and those who just signed up during the 2020 Open Enrollment Period.

“We want to assure you that Florida Prepaid is here for you as Florida continues to cope with the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19),” reads a letter from Florida Prepaid College Board Executive Director Kevin Thompson to parents. Open enrollment started on Feb. 1 and runs through April 30.

The deferment in payments comes as the spread of the coronavirus in Florida creates both a public health and economic crisis.

Florida cases of COVID-19 positive tests exceeded 13,000 as of Monday.

Meanwhile, individuals attempting to access unemployment applications have overwhelmed infrastructure at the Department of Economic Opportunity. Additionally, families will still have to wait several weeks for relief checks that are part of a federal rescue bill to arrive in the mail.

Florida Prepaid officials say the normal payment schedule will kick back in on July 20. Payment schedules for customers will extend for three months.

State officials said if payments are scheduled through a bank or via paycheck deductions, individuals still need to contact the payment provider to cancel the installments. But for those with ACH payment authorizations automatically through the state, Florida Prepaid will not collect payments.

Anyone who wants to continue making payments for the next three months can continue to do so at the program’s website.

The decision to defer payments comes months after Florida Prepaid announced it was reducing costs for the program to its lowest levels in five years. That included issuing more than $500 million in refunds to customers who have plans dating as far back as 2008.

The price shift was possible, officials said then, thanks to lower than anticipated tuition and fee increases in recent years.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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