SPRINGFIELD – On behalf of the State of Illinois’ two tuition savings plans, College Illinois! and Bright Start Savings, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has proclaimed September as “College Savings Month” in the State of Illinois. Both programs help families save money now for the future cost of sending their children to college.
“A college education is more important now than ever before. Most parents understand that, but many don’t know about options available to them to help prepare for future tuition costs,” said the Governor. “We have two great programs here in Illinois that help parents save ahead to give their children access to higher education.”
College Illinois!, the State’s prepaid tuition program, offers families the opportunity to prepay college tuition now at rates significantly less than future college costs. When the student attends an Illinois public university or community college, their tuition and mandatory fee charges are already paid. An equivalent tuition benefit is paid when the student attends a private or out-of-state college. More than 23,000 families have purchased 42,000 prepaid tuition contracts through College Illinois!, representing a commitment of more than $700 million. Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), College Illinois!’s seventh annual enrollment period will open on October 27, 2004, and extend through March 31, 2005. Information is available at www.collegeillinois.com or by calling toll-free at 1-877-877-3724.
Bright Start, a college savings program administered by State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, allows families to open investment accounts and then use those savings and earnings from the account to pay for qualified educational expenses at any college. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, as well as other expenses such as room and board or textbooks and supplies. Since its inception in March 2000, more than 109,543 accounts have been opened with over $1.051 billion invested for college savings. More information on the Bright Start savings program can be found at www.brightstartsavings.com or by calling 877-43 BRIGHT.
The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) of the National Association of State Treasurers has encouraged every state to declare September 2004 as “College Savings Month” as a way to encourage families to plan ahead for the cost of college attendance. Section 529 state college savings programs are available in all 50 states and provide an affordable way for most families to save. Through state-sponsored college savings programs, parents and grandparents can take financial responsibility for the cost of college rather than depending on government entitlement programs or burdening students with student loan debt.