CHICAGO, Ill. — As College Savings Month comes to a close September 30, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) says now is the best time to lock in college tuition prices with the College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program’s discounted September prices before prices increase Friday, October 1.
“The College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program is a powerful tool to help families save for college without incurring market risk,” said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. “The sooner parents, grandparents and even godparents get started, the more they save with College Savings Month discounts while avoiding tuition inflation that’s increased 10 percent annually in Illinois over the past decade.”
Unlike other college savings plans, a College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program contract between the purchaser and the state of Illinois provides tuition and fee benefits for college, regardless of fluctuations in the market. Prepaid tuition benefits keep pace with the increases in tuition and fees equal to those found at in-state, public institutions. A beneficiary can choose to attend college almost anywhere because benefits can be used at all Illinois public universities and community colleges or applied at most public and private institutions nationwide.
“College Savings Month is a time for families across Illinois to consider the value of higher education and also how to pay for it. It’s vital to realize how much a college degree can impact a child’s life,” concluded Davis.
According to the College Board, the unemployment rate for college graduates in 2009 was 4.6 percent compared with 9.7 percent for those with only a high school diploma. In fact, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients working full-time year-round in 2008 were $55,700, $21,900 more than the median earnings of high school graduates. The Center for Social Development says youths with college savings plans are almost four times more likely to attend a four-year college than those with no account.
With over $1 billion in assets, the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program is solid. Since the program’s inception in 1998, families have trusted the program to provide tuition benefits for more than 60,000 future college students. In fact, nearly 14,000 students have already utilized College Illinois! benefits to pay for college at almost 800 campuses across the country.
Although enrollment is open year-round, the 2010-11 pricing period begins November 1, so parents and grandparents can still purchase as few as one semester at a community college or as many as nine semesters at a public university at lower, 2009-10 prices through October 31. Various payment options are available, including monthly and annual installments. Call toll-free at (877) 877-3724 for program information, materials and enrollment guidelines, or enroll today at www.529prepaidtuition.org.
Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program is a secure college funding option because benefits do not fluctuate with the stock market. Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than 68,000 prepaid tuition contracts with a value of more than $1.6 billion have been purchased. ISAC’s commissioners are responsible for the overall management of the program and its investments, including hiring a qualified slate of investment managers and other professionals.
About College Savings Month:
On September 1, Governor Pat Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White issued a proclamation designating September as College Savings Month in Illinois. Section 529 plans make it easy and affordable for the average family to plan ahead for the cost of college attendance and are available in 49 states and the District of Columbia. In fact, the 108th Congress of the United States officially recognized September as College Savings Month in 2003. Originally started by the College Savings Plan Network, more than 40 states have declared September College Savings Month, and many activities are held to recognize the importance of saving for college during the month.
About College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program Pricing and Plans:
A tiered pricing system called SmartChoice, introduced in 2008, makes plans even more affordable than ever before. SmartChoice pricing provides three distinct price and benefit levels (Community College, University and University+) with different payment options. The plans are completely flexible and let the purchaser choose a pricing option that best matches their 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 taxes. Neither ISAC nor the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program can provide legal or tax advice. Please consult a professional tax advisor concerning federal and state tax implications before purchasing a contract.
To enroll in the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program, visit www.529prepaidtuition.org, or call (877) 877-3724 for program information, materials and enrollment guidelines.
About 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. The commission continued its mission to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by administering over 183,000 grants and scholarships totaling over $430 million in FY2009 alone.
The Commission provides educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and the College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid 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.529prepaidtuition.org.