CARBONDALE – To combat the rising costs of higher education, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today encouraged Illinois families to apply for the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program before next week’s April 30 deadline for the current enrollment period.
“Planning for college entails more than academic preparation,” said Simon, the state’s point person on education reform. “Families should also have a long-term strategic plan for how to pay for tuition and fees in the future.”
In her first year in office, Simon toured all of the state’s 48 community colleges to push for reforms that will help students earn college degrees or certificates - on time and with less debt - that translate to good-paying jobs. During her second year as Lt. Governor, Simon convened College Affordability Summits at each of the state’s 12 public universities and called for cost transparency, targeted state assistance and federal tax breaks to control college costs. In a white paper released earlier this year, Simon cited college affordability as a “significant barrier to students seeking degree at public universities.”
Illinois supports students and families through a variety of non-loan assistance, including the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant for low-income residents and the College Illinois! Prepaid tuition program for all residents. College Illinois! allows families to lock in a lower price today to cover the expense of future tuition and fees. Program officials project that tuition and fees for a child born today could be as much as $180,000 to attend an Illinois four-year public university.
“With ever rising costs of higher education, College Illinois! offers parents a great opportunity to plan ahead and make college more affordable for their kids,” said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which administers the program. “We’re urging parents to seize the day and sign up for College Illinois!, or talk to one of our advisers now, before the enrollment period closes.”
Simon noted that Illinois residents have access to several state tax-advantaged programs that make it easy to start saving today. The College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program has assisted nearly 22,000 families and has paid over $400 million in tuition and fees to nearly 950 state and out-of-state postsecondary institutions, including community colleges, public universities and private schools. Since the program’s start in 1997, over 70,000 prepaid tuition contracts have been purchased by Illinois residents.
College Illinois! offers various plans which let purchasers choose a pricing option that best fits their financial needs. For additional information about the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program, please visit www.prepayandsave.org, www.529prepaidtuition.org, or call 877-877-3724.