SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Parents and grandparents of infants less than 12 months of age have one last chance to enroll in the state’s College Illinois! ® 529 prepaid tuition program before prices increase. That’s because College Illinois! plans will still be offered at 2008-’09 prices until August 1, which is less than the prices for contracts set to go into effect when enrollment re-opens November 1.
Unlike a college savings plan, College Illinois! is the tax-advantaged prepaid tuition plan that protects families from tuition inflation by allowing purchasers to lock-in a price now to cover future tuition and fees at colleges nationwide.
For example, at current plan prices, four years of tuition and fees at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) is $58,419. A child born today is projected to incur college costs of more than $160,000 at a four-year, public university, but parents and grandparents can enroll newborns in College Illinois! today for much less, negating the effect of tuition inflation on their pocketbooks.
“The earlier parents enter into a College Illinois! contract, the better protected they are against future tuition inflation,” said Andrew Davis, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which runs the program. “Unlike saving for college, a College Illinois! contract allows you to save money on college, locking in tuition based on today’s rates.”
A college education is one of the most important things a parent can provide for a child, and one of the primary reasons people invest in College Illinois! is the security the program affords. Unlike a savings plan, College Illinois! is a contract. Each contract holder is entitled to receive the tuition and fee benefits as stated in the contract, regardless of fluctuations in the market.
College Illinois! benefits keep pace with the increases in tuition and fees equal to those found at in-state, public institutions. Parents and grandparents can purchase as little as one semester at a community college to nine semesters at a public university. Various payment options are available, including monthly and annual installments.
Time is running out for parents and grandparents of children less than 12 months of age to enroll in this secure option for their child’s educational future at collegeillinois.com. Interested persons without online access can call the program toll-free at (877) 877-3724 for program information, materials and newborn enrollment guidelines. Registration for newborn enrollment ends August 1.
Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, College Illinois! is a secure college funding option because benefits do not fluctuate with the stock market. College Illinois! is a contract between the purchaser and the state of Illinois that ensures tuition and fee benefits for college. When a beneficiary is ready to go to college, he or she can choose to attend almost anywhere because benefits can be used at Illinois public universities and community colleges as well as public and private institutions nationwide.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than 66,000 prepaid tuition contracts with a value of more than $1.4 billion have been purchased, and College Illinois! has paid out over $155 million in benefits to more than 11,000 contract-holders during that time. The program’s Trust Fund is managed by professional money managers, subject to oversight by the program’s Investment Advisory Panel and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
More about College Illinois! Pricing and Plans
A new tiered pricing system called SmartChoice, introduced this enrollment period, makes plans even more affordable than ever before. SmartChoice pricing provides three distinct price levels with different payment options. The plans are completely flexible and let the purchaser choose a pricing option that best matches financial needs and realities. Combination plans including four semesters at a community college and four semesters at a university level are also available. Various payment options include monthly and annual installments and multiple down payment levels. In addition, program beneficiaries can choose to attend college anywhere because benefits can be used outside of the state at public and private institutions nationwide.
Upon purchasing a contract, Illinois taxpayers can annually deduct up to $10,000 per individual or $20,000 for married couples filing jointly, and all plan earnings are exempt from state and federal tax exemptions.*
College Illinois! newborn enrollment is open through August 1, 2009. For more information about College Illinois!, or to enroll in the program, visit www.collegeillinois.com or call (877) 877-3724.
About College Illinois! and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission:
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for more than 50 years. Last year alone, ISAC continued its mission to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by issuing over 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million.
The Commission provides educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the successful Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois!sm the Commission’s groundbreaking 529 prepaid college tuition program. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org and www.CollegeIllinois.com.
*Neither ISAC nor College Illinois! can provide legal or tax advice. Please consult a professional tax advisor concerning federal and state tax implications or purchasing any contract.