Statewide, statistically valid survey will help the state’s 529 prepaid tuition plan ensure it is meeting families’ college savings needs

LANSING – With hundreds of thousands of Michigan college students now back in school, the Michigan Education Trust (MET) is preparing to embark on its own quest for knowledge by surveying state residents about saving for college.

MET’s statewide, statistically valid research effort is meant to help the state’s 529 prepaid tuition program identify Michigan families’ needs and possible roadblocks to college savings.

“We’re aiming to gather up-to-date insights and a deeper understanding into how families save for college, what they look for in a college savings vehicle and whatever obstacles they might face in building a college savings account,” said Robin Lott, executive director of MET, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The online survey will take place in late September as part of MET’s observance of Michigan’s College Savings Month. It also coincides with the Sept. 30 end to the 2016-17 MET enrollment period before the program reopens for contract purchases in December.

Among the topics the survey will address: the amount of college costs covered by parents or other caregivers; how soon they begin setting money aside for a child’s higher education; the types of savings methods used; reasons, if any, for not saving for college; and familiarity with 529 college savings plans – such as MET and the Michigan Education Savings Program – which are named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that allowed for their creation and tax benefits.

“Anecdotally, parents and caregivers have told us over the years that they view saving for their child’s college education as their biggest financial obligation,” Lott said. “But we’ve also heard that they don’t believe they can afford to save or that they are unsure how to go about it. We’re hopeful that the survey will uncover additional information that will help us help families meet their college savings goals.”

MET is the state’s Section 529 prepaid tuition plan, which allows for the purchase of future college tuition credits based on today’s rates. Debuting in 1988 as the nation’s first prepaid tuition program, MET is preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

MET, MESP and MI 529 Advisor Plan (MAP), Michigan’s three Section 529 college savings programs, offer Michigan taxpayers a state income tax deduction on contributions and potential tax-free growth on earnings if account proceeds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.

More information about MET is available at or 800-MET-4-KID (800-638-4543).

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