B.C. Signs On To U.Plan

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College has joined the state's U.Plan college savings program, which allows parents to lock in current tuition rates as a hedge against future increases.

The announcement came last week as state officials marked the third year of the program, which now includes 83 colleges and universities, and more than 33,000 participants.

"Boston College is proud to provide families and alumni an opportunity to save for a Boston College education through the U.Plan," said Senior Vice President James P. McIntyre at a March 3 press conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse. "We, like other colleges in the U.Plan, are concerned about the rising cost of tuition and would like to do everything we can to help families save for their children's education."

BC is one of eight area colleges and universities to join the U.Plan this year. The others are Bentley College, the Boston Conservatory, Emerson College, Emmanuel College, Mount Ida College, the New England Conservatory of Music and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

The U.Plan is the only college savings program in the US that locks in tuition at both public and private institutions and is open to residents and non-residents of the state. Under the plan, parents purchase tax-exempt state bonds, which can be redeemed up to 21 years later, and are guaranteed to increase in value sufficiently to cover tuition costs when the child goes to college.

"Under the U.Plan, if you were to invest $5,000 this year, and that represented 40 percent of a college's tuition for the coming year, your investment will cover 40 percent of whatever the tuition is in the year your student starts or attends school," said John Hamill, president of Fleet Bank of Massachusetts, which administers the program.

There is no cap on the amount of money that can be invested, though there is an annual minimum payment of $300. If a student decides to attend a school outside the U.Plan system, the invested funds can be recovered, with interest.

Massachusetts Education Financing Authority Executive Director Peter Mazareas hailed BC's decision to join the U.Plan, which he said might spur the involvement of other Massachusetts universities who have yet to join.

"Boston College is a Massachusetts institution of national reputation and the loyalty it has in Massachusetts because of its stature is strong," he said.

Mazareas cited a MEFA-commissioned poll of parents considering participation in the U.Plan, in which 54 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to take part in the program if Boston College were one of the participating schools. The positive response rate BC drew was higher than that of any other college mentioned in the poll, he said.

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