4 Ways to Get Out of Paying Tuition Increases

Some schools and college savings programs allow students to lock in today’s tuition prices

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The economic tumult of recent years not only forced many colleges to push tuition higher, but wiped out many of the tools that promised protection against that tuition inflation. Luckily, parents or students interested in avoiding future tuition increases still have several options:

[Read more about guaranteed tuition colleges.] 

  • Those who can scrape together a big enough lump sum to cover all four years' costs up front, can choose one of the dozens of colleges, including well-regarded schools like Vanderbilt University and Middlebury College, that allow parents to prepay at the freshman-year rate.
  • Those who are facing tuition bills at least one year from now can invest in one of more than a dozen "prepaid" college savings plans that allow them to buy tuition credits today. At least two—Alaska's and the "Independent 529" that serves about 270 private colleges—allow investors to lock in today's tuition prices. The rest charge a premium of anywhere from 4 percent to more than 20 percent because investments lately haven't been able to keep up with tuition hikes. (Warnings: Some prepaid college savings plans require investors to wait at least three years before cashing out. And some prepaid college savings plans are facing financial troubles that could threaten their ability to keep their promises.)

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