I have to do this every so often, it's just in my nature. Of course, I'm talking about jumping up on my soapbox to get the word out about the Florida Prepaid College Plan. This program could very easily, almost single handedly, rejuvenate a sluggish real estate market in Tallahassee as well as in the State of Florida.
Disclaimer: As often is the case, the guy on the soapbox is often the least qualified to rant about the specific topic. I suspect this might be true in my case as well. If I am factually wrong here, please set me straight in the comments section below. You can also refer back to my other blog on the Florida Prepaid College Plan.
If you read the newspapers, you will have noticed that the school system in the State of Florida seems to be struggling for money. There are issues with the Legislature telling the schools what they have to "charge," and yet not providing for inflation and little things like "reality." Four-year colleges (why arent't these called five-year colleges now?) are capping enrollment and the burden of housing the underclassmen is falling heavily on the community colleges. Additionally, I believe that community colleges fall into the trap of not being allowed to turn away students.
Upper Education Should Be Treated As A Growth Industry In Florida
I do not understand why the State of Florida does not see the economic benefit of the Florida higher education industry for all Floridians. Let's grow our schools. Let's give our school administrators the ability to run a profitable enterprise by charging fair rates for tuition. Think about it. The solution to this is most likely found by wise people (and don't we keep a bunch of them in our schools?).
Myriam Marquez wrote a short rant the other day in the Miami Herald seeking to allow counties to further tax their citizens in order to raise money to aid in the support of community colleges. Why I think the cause is just, the methodology does not make sense. The problem of the state is being shoved down the throats of the counties and it isn't right. Do not force the community colleges to take the flow of people that the State will not take, rather let's see the State solve the problem.
Back To The Soap Box On The Florida Prepaid College Program
So what does this all have to do with the Florida Prepaid College Program and the real estate industry? Well, let's take a quick peak at some key numbers and facts as presented by the Florida Prepaid College Board (as of June 2007):
♦ Program Launched in 1988
♦ Number of contracts: 1,200,000
♦ Enrollees thus far: 184,000
♦ Florida Prepaid Students in college through Fall (2006): 74,000
♦ Manausa Math: 1 Million students (and growing) "on the way."
The Wave Of Students Should Be Arriving Soon
- The Florida Prepaid College Program has grown in popularity since inception
- The Florida Prepaid College Program is cheaper when enrolling an infant than it is for an older child
- The Florida Prepaid College Program is now 20 years old
- The Average Age of an incoming Freshman is 18 years old
- If it took five years for the The Florida Prepaid College Program to hit its stride, then we are three years away from seeing the biggest wave of students arriving in our schools (20 year age of program - 5 years to hit stride = 15 years ago. 18 year old freshman - 15 year old contract for infant = 3 years).
- Florida has reciprocity agreements with many other States.
So, based upon more Manausa Math, I see the schools becoming more and more pressed to provide an "already paid for" education. They have their hands tied by the legislature which has put a cap on raising tuition. Something has got to give.
Wake Up Florida And Seize The Economic Opportunity
This whole situation just screams of opportunity. Over a million new students on the way (remember that "reciprocity agreement point.... do you think more kids from Florida will want to go to Michigan for school or more kids from Michigan will want to go to Florida for school?) and no real plan to educate them or house them.
Let's put some smart minds together and figure out how we can better fund our schools. Let's make higher education a priority industry in Florida and see how many students we can bring here. They all want to come here for spring break, why not make it more permanent? Let's get Florida to be the education destination for the huge band of students that are ready and getting ready to attend college. Let's make it the best six years of their lives!
A Growing Education Industry Aids The Real Estate Industry
Obviously, any growth in industry in the State of Florida is going to help the battered real estate market. It just seems so easy to look internally to do this. Higher education is an industry that provides for multiple benefits. Besides the obvious of enhancing young lives, it also helps attract new parasitical industries (which again helps the real estate market). Our education industry is ripe for explosion, why don't our elected leaders come together to make this happen. Now.
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Joe Manausa, MBA is a 26 year veteran of real estate brokerage in Tallahassee, Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.