Fitch: Closing MPACT would have been more expensive

The board that oversees the state’s prepaid college tuition plan considered closing the program before deciding this week to reopen enrollment.

But shutting it down would have left the state with an even larger shortfall, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch told the Daily Journal editorial board on Wednesday.

The College Savings Plan Board, chaired by Fitch, voted Monday to reopen MPACT – the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program – which has not accepted new enrollees since fall 2012 because of its funding shortfall.

That shortfall currently is about $82 million, Fitch said, and many states have recently opted to close similar programs for financial reasons. Had Mississippi done so, the shortage would have stretched by another $60 million, she said. That’s because many children enrolled in it will soon be graduating high school and entering college.

Instead, the board – which also includes Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds and Community College Board Executive Director Eric Clark – chose to revive it and bring in new revenue.

“This is a critical investment tool for the education of our children,” Fitch said Wednesday.

Daily Journal
3/27/14