CHICAGO— The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announced it will begin another enrollment cycle for the College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program November 1 with the program in solid financial shape.
“Our message to the residents of Illinois and current contract-holders is that the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition program is solid,” explained ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. “College Illinois! assets are both safe and liquid.”
As of September 30, 2009, the value of College Illinois! assets was approximately $1 billion. The program has sold over 66,000 contracts to date, including 45,426 active contracts, the equivalent of 200,700 years of college.
The primary reason people purchase a Prepaid Tuition contract is the security the program affords their investment in their child’s future. Unlike a savings plan, each contract holder is entitled to receive the tuition and fee benefits as stated in the contract, regardless of fluctuations in the market.
“While we have experienced some short-term market fluctuations like most everybody, our investment strategy is long-term and ‘mutualizes the risk.’ Our cash on hand is more than adequate to pay out benefits, and our actuarial assumptions are very, very conservative,” Davis continued. “Unlike some of the other states, we have never stopped selling the plan, and we will be moving to year-round enrollment with our November 1 launch.”
College Illinois! SmartChoice pricing was introduced in Fall, 2008, with three distinct plans based on the tuition at University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), at other state public universities and at community colleges. SmartChoice pricing puts parents and children on an educational path that best fits their needs and budget. Purchasers can select one-to-nine semesters of University or University+ coverage, one-to-four semesters of community college coverage or a combination of both.
“There are two things you can count on—the growth of tuition costs and the value of a college education,” concluded Davis. “A College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition contract is a great tool to fight tuition inflation, offering 529 tax benefits with the safety and security of a contract. Obviously, you get the maximum benefit by starting early and locking in a child’s college education at today’s prices.”
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 both accessible and affordable for Illinois students by issuing over 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million.
In addition to administering the Illinois State Scholar Program, the Commission coordinates 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!® Prepaid Tuition. 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.