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NFL Family Points to Michigan Education Trust as Wise Investment to Kick Off Children’s Educational Dreams

As Southeast Michigan prepares to welcome the NFL draft to town this week, a Novi family with deep football roots who know firsthand the value of preparing for the future — whether on the gridiron or in the classroom — has become a voice for educational savings.

And following the lead of former Detroit Lions cornerback and NFL front-office executive Sheldon White and his family during NFL Draft Week comes with a financial incentive.

To celebrate the 2024 NFL draft being held in Detroit this week, the Michigan Education Trust (MET), a program administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, will waive the $25 online enrollment fee for anyone opening a MET account between now and June 30, 2024, by using the code 2024DRAFT when they enroll online.

White, his wife, Amy, and their family understand that uncertainty waits around the corner in football and in life. That’s why Sheldon, who spent 20 years with the Detroit Lions organization and now is director of pro scouting for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Amy decided long ago to invest in MET to save for their children’s college education.

For the White family, the flexibility that MET affords couldn’t have worked out any better.

“My husband believes in preparation. He likes to get things done. We invested in MET for our children to ensure their college would be paid for no matter what their dreams,” said Amy White.

MET is a 529 prepaid tuition savings program that lets families pay today’s prices for future higher education costs. MET funds may be used to pay for future tuition and mandatory fees at a community college, college, university or trade school in accordance with the program’s terms and conditions. 

Unlike the NFL draft, the beauty with MET is that it is absolutely risk-free. If your child doesn’t need it or chooses not to use it, the money can be redirected.

As it turns out, that’s what happened with the White family when oldest son Jordan took a different career path that didn’t require college. Then, younger son Cody, now a wide receiver with the Seattle Seahawks, earned a football scholarship to Michigan State University, where his father took a job as executive director of player personnel and recruiting for the Spartans football team.

“Our sons didn’t need MET for different reasons, but because of how MET works, the money we invested was still available for our family,” Amy White said. “And some of it still is.”

Not only could their daughter, Lacy, 23, tap her own MET account to earn her bachelor’s degree in an accelerated nursing program at MSU, but she was also able to draw from one of the accounts unused by her brothers for further educational needs.

Any additional money left in the MET can go to their own children, nieces or nephews, Amy White said.

“No one knows what the future holds for their children, but for us it was a safety net that we could provide. I highly recommend it to be part of every family’s game plan,” White said. “If you invest in  MET, your children can go to the college of their dreams.”

Investing with MET

MET contracts can be opened by purchasing as little as one credit hour, and anyone can contribute to a child’s education savings plan, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and others. With a Pay-As-You-Go plan, once the plan is opened, contributions can be as low as $25.

The 529 plan also has tax advantages. For instance, distributions from MET are not taxed by the state or federal government when it comes time to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Michigan residents who are MET contract holders can also claim a state tax deduction on the total contributions they make during a calendar year.

Contributions to an existing account can be made at any time during the year through MET’s secure online pay site. MET gift declarations also allow contributors to print out certificates of their contributions designed for holidays, birthdays, graduations and more that can be put in a card or gift wrapped.