The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 28, 2012

More bad news for Ala. tuition plan; parents irate

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The board that oversees Alabama's prepaid college tuition program got more bad news about the plan's financial outlook Wednesday, and the board's chairman got an earful of outrage from frustrated parents who can't plan for their children's education.

Actuary Dan Sherman said the board's liabilities will exceed its assets by $605 million if it keeps paying full tuition, and it should run out of money in fall 2015. He said if it keeps paying full tuition for more than 10,000 students currently enrolled in college, the board will need to close the program down in about a year if it wants to have enough left to refund the money participants paid to join.

The board is paying full tuition while the Alabama Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of a law that would allow it to pay reduced tuition at 2010 levels and remain operating.

After a board meeting Wednesday, the board's chairman, State Treasurer Young Boozer, met with parents to hear their concerns.

Liz Jones of Andalusia pulled no punches.

"When you get to the Pearly Gates, you are going to answer for this. It is just not right," she said.

Jones said she paid into Alabama's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition plan because it was backed by the state and promised four years of full tuition at a state university for her daughter. Now her daughter is a sophomore at the University of Alabama. If the Supreme Court upholds the reduced rates, Jones said she doesn't know where she will come up with $650 each semester each semester to fill the gap.

Kathy King of Marbury said her family skipped vacations and drove secondhand cars to make sure her two sons had paid up contracts with the tuition plan. She has one son at Auburn University Montgomery and another who's a senior in high school.

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