MPACT Legacy program facing shortfall - - Jackson, MS

MPACT Legacy program facing shortfall

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition, known as MPACT, has a history of financial issues.

That's why it was frozen for two years.

Here's the deal, families who enrolled prior to 2012 are in the MPACT Legacy program.

Anyone who enrolled after it reopened in 2014, is part of MPACT Horizon. But it's those older contracts that are in financial trouble now.

"If nothing else changes in any of the assumptions and if the legislature doesn't put any new money into it by 2026, then we're out of money," says Michelle Williams, Office of State Treasurer Chief of Staff.

Now, that's not to say that the families who bought into the program prior to 2012 would be left hanging.

They can't be.

"Legally, the state has to pay those contracts out whether the money is in the legacy account or not," added Williams. "So, they're going to have to come up with it whether it's through tax dollars or just some kind of general fund appropriation."

That's why Treasurer Lynn Fitch is sounding the alarm to lawmakers that the Legacy program needs a special appropriation before it reaches that point.

"What we're looking at here is trying to keep the program running without having to balance it on the taxpayer's back," noted Williams. "Because it's a full faith and credit program. Taxpayers are on the hook for every bit that has been contracted with the legacy, the horizon owners, all of them."

This is the fifth year the College Saving Board has asked for money to close the gap. And the shortfall has grown to $13.5 million.

"The program has been failing for quite awhile and the can has been kicked down the road," said Rep. Gregory Holloway, Sr. who serves on the College Savings Board.

But the MPACT Horizon program continues to grow and is doing well financially. It's just a question of how the state will make good on the older contracts held by families saving for college tuition.

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