Boothe’s bill to help future college students

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 22, 2001

Staff Writer

State leaders are trying to help parents defer the ever-increasing costs of a college education.

A bill sponsored by State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, intended to help parents plan for the future, was passed by a House committee on Tuesday.

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Currently, the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program, known as PACT, allows parents and grandparents to set aside college money for Alabama children. By putting money in that trust fund, it is available for higher education when a child is ready to attend a state college or university.

"It helps a person start saving for college," Boothe said of PACT.

By adding House Bill 426, Boothe believes even more people will be able to receive college educations in Alabama even with the rising costs of a four-year degree.

A child born this year would likely enter college in 2020 and there is no way to predict what the cost of higher education will be, then, Boothe said.

Under the PACT program, parents can start putting money away for that day. Children who are in the ninth grade or younger may be enrolled in the program.

The new bill would allow PACT money be used for room and board. Under the existing program, the money can only be used for tuition and mandatory fees.

"This will help more people go to college," Boothe said, adding, the existing program does not include "other costs involved" in getting a college diploma.

"It can cost a lot of money to keep a child in college, now."

But, with his plan, Boothe wants to even further reduce the financial burden of sending a child to college.

Boothe’s proposed plan would also allow out-of-state beneficiaries of PACT contracts. For example, he said, a grandparent, who lives in another state, would be able to enter into a PACT contract for a grandchild living in Alabama. At this time, only Alabama residents can participate in the program.

The enrollment period is the month of September and information about the program can be received by going to the state treasury’s website, or by calling 1-800-252-7228.