PACT decision ignites desire to burn contracts - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

PACT decision ignites letter writing and desire to burn contracts

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

A bitter battle between the state and parents over the Prepaid Alabama College Tuition program may not be over.

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court approved a settlement. It gives every participant some funding.

Some parents say that's not enough, but it's not the only option.

School counselors stress planning for college. But even careful budgeting isn't always enough.

"His mother and I will make it happen. I've put money into educational accounts along the way. But it's not near enough to cover the long haul," said Benny Bliss who has PACT contracts for both of his children. One of them is out of college. The other starts in the fall.

The PACT program was supposed to cover college tuition for Bliss' children and 35 thousand other families. Now, it only provides funding at 2010 tuition levels. Parents and students must cover the rest.

The economy left PACT with a multi-million dollar deficit. It also affected Bliss' job.

"I was downsized in June 2011. I haven't had a paycheck since then," said Bliss.

Another family says it may sell their house to pay the difference.

Many families are mad- firing off emails and letters to elected officials. Some even want to stage contract burning events.

"It's understandable, no question about it," said Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer. "We were six hundred million short. What we've done is found a way to preserve the program.

Boozer says there's another prepaid tuition program available- the College Counts 529 program. Most states have similar programs.

"It's basically a defined contribution program and it has been very successful. In the US today, it's probably the best way to save for a child's or grandchild's education," said Boozer.

But many parents thought PACT was the best.

Bliss says the outcome of program will definitely be on his mind the next time he goes to the polls.

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