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Top Q&As from our Scholarship Expert AMA

On May 14th, Take Stock in College hosted scholarship expert Casey Fisher on Take Stock Connect for another “Ask Me Anything” event. Fisher has been a proud supporter of the Take Stock network for nearly 18 years. Most recently, Casey finds himself serving as the Director of Scholarships and Program Data with the Take Stock in Children state office after working previously for 15 years with the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. If you couldn’t find the time to make it to the event – that’s okay! We have put together key questions and answers below!

What is the Florida Prepaid Survey?
The survey must be completed each year—beginning in January—and will allow you to use the scholarship through the following academic year. For example, if you complete the survey in May of 2020, Florida Prepaid will not block any invoices until fall 2021. It updates Florida Prepaid on your contact information and only takes a few minutes to complete. To get started, click here.

I don’t remember my Scholarship/account number.
If you don’t know your account number, you cannot fill out your Florida Prepaid survey! If you forget this number, you should contact your local Take Stock affiliate office (the office in the county you graduated high school from) and request the number. Most students are also issued a Florida Prepaid ID card (letter) that would have your scholarship number on it. It is always a good idea to snap a picture of it and file it away in case you need it. The number will be ten digits long and will start with a 3 or 9.

How many hours are left on my assigned Take Stock Scholarship?
You should check in with your home Take Stock affiliate office. They receive quarterly updates from Florida Prepaid and can tell you how many hours, and their current value, that you have left. You can also use this tool to locate the correct contact. You can also email your College Completion Coach, and we can connect you with the appropriate contact at your local Take Stock affiliate office.

If we run out of prepaid hours before graduating, is there any way to add scholarship hours to our plan?
We encourage you to reach out to your home Take Stock affiliate office to inquire if they have any additional hours that may be available should you deplete your current scholarship. However, your best bet is to apply for scholarships through your college or university, or a private scholarship provider prior to running out of hours.

Remember, it takes a few months to get approved for a scholarship; planning is key! Your college and local education foundation are great starting points to look for scholarships. You can also look at https://myscholly.com/ , https://www.scholarships.com/ , https://www.careeronestop.org , and fastweb.com, as these are popular databases for scholarships. Be sure to carefully read the eligibility requirements as they can be specific to location, major, or other unique factors.

Does Florida Prepaid work on summer classes?
Yes, your Take Stock scholarship can be applied to summer classes. No special action is required.

Can I use my Florida Prepaid scholarship on study abroad classes?
You can use your Florida Prepaid scholarship for study abroad classes under the right circumstances. The Take Stock local affiliate office will need to approve the student using the scholarship at a non-Florida, non-public institution. Additionally, the study abroad program must be hosted by an approved eligible institution. For example, Florida State University runs a great overseas program.

Where can you use your scholarship?
Each student’s scholarship is a Florida Prepaid College plan that is designed to be used at one of the 40 public colleges and universities in the state. You should check with your local Take Stock affiliate program if you want to attend anywhere else as many Take Stock affiliates do not allow the use of the scholarship outside this 40-school network or outside the state of Florida. If you stay within this 40-school network, you will not need to do anything to transfer the scholarship. Click this link if you want to check if a school is approved. Remember: your local TSIC affiliate will need to approve attending any non-Florida non-public institution.

I only took 15 hours my first semester, but my account has more missing than that…
It depends on the scholarship type.  Remember, if your scholarship was purchased on the college rate, you can expect to run out of scholarship hours quicker if you attend a university as universities are more expensive than colleges.

Can I use my scholarship at a trade school or technical school?
Your local Take Stock program will need to approve using your benefits at a technical or trade school. Once approved, the scholarship benefits may be applied to any approved eligible institution. In many cases, the scholarship will cover all expenses at the trade school.

What tax forms do I need?
A 1099-Q form will be provided in January of each year to students who have used their Florida Prepaid Plan during the previous calendar year. In most cases, the 1099 will not have a financial impact on your tax return. For specific tax information, please consult an investment adviser, certified public accountant or stop by your local tax preparation service office so they can help answer any questions.  The form should have been mailed to you directly from Florida Prepaid for any benefits used during Calendar Year 2019. If you did not receive it, Mr. Fisher recommends reaching out to Florida Prepaid to request a copy. The Florida Prepaid Customer Service number is 1-800-552-4723.

If I transfer to a private school, can I use my scholarship?
The transfer form will need to be approved by the local Take Stock affiliate office. Once approved, yes, they can still use the scholarship. The value of the scholarship plan diminishes greatly, but will be applied to pay costs at any eligible educational institution – including vocational schools and graduate programs. Students planning to attend an eligible private or out-of-state institution must have a transfer authorization request completed by the local Take Stock program before benefits will be paid.

How can I maintain my scholarship while taking a break from school?
You should always keep in touch with your local Take Stock program. If you need to take a semester or two, or four, off it will need to be approved by them. The contract that Take Stock students signed when they were accepted into the program only allows students a certain amount of time to use and complete the scholarship, so please be sure to check with your local Take Stock affiliate office. 

If I don’t use all my scholarship, can I transfer the balance to a family member?
No. The student does not own the scholarship. They are a beneficiary of the plan and any changes/cancellations decision will rest with the owner, the Take Stock local affiliate program.

The big take away from our Ask Me Anything is this: your home Take Stock office owns the scholarship and you are the beneficiary/user of the scholarship. You need to check in regularly to make sure you have everything you need to be up to date. Your friends at Take Stock in College are happy to help connect you with the right people at your local Take Stock affiliate office.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions regarding your scholarship!

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