CHICAGO, Nov. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- College Illinois!®, a 529 prepaid tuition program that allows participants to lock in the future cost of college, today announced the opening of its 2015-2016 enrollment period, running from November 2, 2015 through May 31, 2016. Those who enroll now through December 31 can take advantage of last year's plan pricing, before prices increase on most plans.
With the increasing cost of college tuition and national student debt levels at an all-time high, programs like College Illinois!, which fall under the federal 529 umbrella, offer families an affordable, unique way to prepay for a child or grandchild's college tuition. By purchasing semesters of college now at today's College Illinois! plan rates, Illinois families can reduce and even eliminate uncertainty about future tuition increases. In addition to using benefits at Illinois colleges and universities within the plan, students can also apply the value of their benefits to private and out-of-state schools.
Michael Jacobson of Chicago purchased a College Illinois! plan when his son was just under 6 years old.
"He's now 19 years old and a freshman in college, and I find that this was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life," says Jacobson. "With all the debate about the state budget and a possible decrease of financial support for state universities and colleges, the costs of college could jump, but my son is covered under College Illinois!. This is a program I think every parent should consider as soon as their child is born."
As a qualified 529 prepaid tuition plan, College Illinois! offers federal and state tax advantages, including an Illinois state income tax deduction. Plan funds are professionally managed by an experienced team and established third-party money managers, and are held in a trust fund at Northern Trust Company, separate from state funds. By law, College Illinois! funds can only be used to pay benefits on behalf of plan beneficiaries and to pay the costs of running the Program.
This fall alone, over 10,000 students are using College Illinois! benefits to attend the school of their choice, including private and out-of-state institutions. Since its inception, the Program has paid out over $725 million in benefits and more than 30,000 students have attended college using College Illinois! benefits.
The Program will bring back an extended newborn enrollment period this year to help families start planning for college as early as possible. Enrollment will be open through August 31, 2016 for children born on or between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016.
"The sooner parents can start putting anything towards college, the more likely they will be prepared when their child is ready to attend," said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the agency that administers the College Illinois! program.
The younger the child, the more families can save on the purchase of a College Illinois! prepaid tuition plan, but there are plan options to fit almost any budget.
The Saavedra family purchased a College Illinois! plan for their daughter when she was just 9 months old.
"She's 13 now, and her College Illinois! plan is fully paid—we knew this would be the best present we could ever give her," said the Saavedras.
For more information on how to join the thousands of families who have locked in the cost of college tuition today, and to review plan details and cost options, visit www.collegeillinois.org.
About College Illinois!
Since its inception in 1998, College Illinois! has been focused on providing an affordable option to help make college a reality for Illinois families. Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program offers a unique set of benefits, including protection from tuition inflation, flexibility, and significant tax benefits. Program assets, which are held in the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Trust Fund and kept separate from all public moneys or funds of the state, are professionally managed by an experienced team led by a Chief Investment Officer and established third party asset managers. More information on plan options and benefits, as well as a complete description of terms and conditions associated with the purchase of a plan, is available at www.collegeillinois.org.
SOURCE College Illinois!