State's P.A.C.T program on the mend

Students walking on campus at Auburn University.
Students walking on campus at Auburn University.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Despite losing half of it's funds to the shaky economy, a study conducted by the Retirement Systems of Alabama concludes the state's prepaid college tuition program could be saved.

"If we get it, we want to make sure it'll work."

That's the message RSA Deputy Director Marc Reynolds is stressing.   Reynolds says taking over the PACT program is no small undertaking.

"It's going to take a huge amount of money to fill this hole," he says.

Governor Bob Riley asked RSA leaders to consider taking the program from the state treasury department to straighten it out.

That's when the RSA started conducting a study to see just how much it would take to pump up the pact funds, and save the program.

"After looking at everything it's probably do-able.   Now there's a big 'IF' there," says Reynolds.

The big "if" is whether the state can get four year colleges on board to decrease their tuition hikes.  Reynolds says that's a key factor.

State Treasury Secretary Kay Ivey says it's a priority.

"We've been working diligently behind the scenes, one on one, with the legislators, with the universities working together sharing factual information, buidling ideas, building coalitions," says Ivey.

It's a message one parent is glad to hear.   But Mark Wilkerson says the PACT situation only helps get a larger message across.

"We've tried to impress upon our children, and I think the government has a role in encouraging the need to save for their children and their grandchildren," says Wilkerson.

Reynolds says the RSA won't take over the program unless they know they can make it work for investors.

He also says it's a collective effort between the legislature, Governor Riley, and the education system.

The RSA will know more about the options are on the table after their study is presented to Governor Riley in August.

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