$270 million shortfall in PACT program predicted for 2014

By Alan Collins

(BIRMINGHAM, AL) WBRC - Despite a $500 million bailout, Alabama's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program is facing money problems. A financial consultant told the PACT Board there will be an almost $270 million shortfall starting after 2014.

"We were of course concerned," Karen Gandy, a PACT parent, said.

There are more than 40,000 contracts outstanding in the state. Karen Gandy has a daughter who is a sophomore in college who depends on the program.

"It's a contract and as a matter of being a contract it's guaranteed," Gandy said.

Last legislative session, PACT parents took to the hallways of the statehouse to lobby lawmakers. The agreement called for spending $547 million over 13 years.

"It's incredible to me with the economy today, children are expected to come up with an increase in tuition," Patti Lambert, PACT board member said.

Lambert says college tuitions have dramatically increased more than ten percent at both the University of Alabama and Auburn University systems. Parents hope all sides will work toward a solution.

"We had hoped the university systems would work together with legislature and PACT board to make this a final solution," Gandy said.

But if those parents return to Montgomery it may be tough to convince lawmakers to find the money.

"We are going to have to make cuts just to balance the budgets just in the upcoming year basked on what we are looking with,"  Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood said.

The PACT board is asking their consultant to run the numbers again.