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San Antonio Schools Evaluate Texas Tomorrow Plan

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Summary: Students in San Antonio Schools in 2008 will have college savings options that haven't existed since 2003. The Texas Tomorrow II plan is a revamped version of the original state savings program that many residents in San Antonio Schools blasted as useless before it was ended in 2003. The problem with the original plan was that it didn't account for inflation. So San Antonio Schools families who used it as their main vehicle for college savings found themselves no better of...

Students in San Antonio Schools in 2008 will have college savings options that haven't existed since 2003. The Texas Tomorrow II plan is a revamped version of the original state savings program that many residents in San Antonio Schools blasted as useless before it was ended in 2003. The problem with the original plan was that it didn't account for inflation. So San Antonio Schools families who used it as their main vehicle for college savings found themselves no better off. Governor Rick Perry announced this newer version that is based on the purchase of units. Here's how it works. Imagine a student in the San Antonio Schools hope to attend a decent four year college. The parents would purchase the appropriate number of units that the family can currently afford. Unlike the old plan, families don't have to pay for 2, 4 or 5 years, but whatever they want. The Texas Prepaid Higher Education Board will set prices annually. Currently a two-year college costs 23 units for a full year, and four-year colleges range from 57-81 units. Proponents in San Antonio Schools and throughout Texas claim that this protects parents because any inflation increases will be paid by the colleges. However, some in the San Antonio Schools fear that the results might actually hurt those the plan was designed to help. A great concern for San Antonio Schools is closing the achievement gap that exists between white and minority students. There is a strong correlation between poverty and poor academic success. Some administrators in San Antonio Schools fear that the current set-up will put colleges in the position of raising tuition to make up for the inflation they are stuck paying. And who's left with the higher tuition? Students who didn't purchase prepaid programs- usually the lower income families. That's not to say that most residents of San Antonio Schools don't like the program. Actually, most parents are pleased that the state has finally replaced the old model. Some features that parents in the San Antonio Schools like are that they can transfer funds from the old program, or from 529 plans, into the Texas Tomorrow II plan. It's also more accessible because families can start paying even if they don't have money to pay for a complete year. But, some parents and educators in San Antonio Schools point out- it's still not perfect. Funds can't be used for books, food or housing; all items that make up a significant portion of college tuition. And for the poorest students in Texas and in San Antonio, it may not do much to get them into college. Still, the overall attitude of most of San Antonio Schools families seems to be that they need all the help they can get. With college cost rising, and even upper middle class families struggling meet tuition, it's not surprising that scores of San Antonio families are eagerly anticipating the new plan.
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