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Saving for college via prepaid plans that allow parents to lock in tuition at today's rates has always had a big drawback: Every dollar in the plan can cost parents and students a dollar of financial aid. On the other hand, every $1 in a Section 529 college savings plan -- which allows parents to invest money that grows tax-free, provided it's used for schooling -- only knocks 5.6 cents off of financial aid.
In a recently passed budget bill that goes into effect on July 1, Congress put the two types of college savings plans -- prepaid and savings -- on equal footing. As a result, families will lose only 5.6 cents in aid for every dollar in each kind of account.
Of the 19 prepaid plans on the market, 18 are sponsored by states. The other is the privately backed Independent 529 Plan, which locks in today's tuition at 255 participating private universities, including Princeton and Rice. Many state prepaids require the beneficiary or account owner to be a resident of the sponsor state. If a student opts for a private or out-of-state school, many pay out the equivalent of average in-state public college tuition. The institution that bills itself as the oldest public art museum in the South has just opened a modern glass-and-stone edifice designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie.
Known as the Jepson Center for the Arts, the 64,000-square-foot building marks the first expansion in the 119-year history of Savannah's Telfair Museum of Art. The $30 million facility adds 66% more space to the museum's two National Historic Landmark buildings in the Georgia city's historic district.
Among the features of the Jepson Center are two large spaces for major traveling exhibits, a hands-on gallery for young people, a 200-seat auditorium, two outdoor sculpture terraces, a caf?, and a store (telfair.org).
In the Jepson's inaugural exhibits, you can view recent assemblages and collages by Robert Rauschenberg, as well as a tribute to Savannah's artistic heritage. The Rauschenberg show runs through June 4, while the Savannah exhibit closes May 14.
Also on display through May 21 is the Kirk Varnedoe Collection, 20 works on paper by such contemporary artists as Frank Stella, Richard Serra, and Jeff Koons. The collection is a gift from sculptor/photographer Elyn Zimmerman in memory of her husband Varnedoe, a Savannah native who was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art.