SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ — For as little as $35 a month, Illinois residents can get an early start on their child’s college costs with College Illinois!(SM), the state’s only 529 prepaid college tuition program. Recently introduced, the program’s SmartChoice pricing lets parents and grandparents choose an option that best fits their budget.
“For less than the monthly cost of a small cup of coffee per day, SmartChoice ensures that Illinoisans can secure a portion of their children’s or grandchildren’s future college tuition,” said Andrew Davis, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
College Illinois! works like an insurance policy, protecting a child’s future college tuition from year over year inflation. When parents or grandparents pick a price and lock in, every payment goes directly into future college tuition — not into a volatile stock market fund.
“We understand how difficult it is for parents to save money for their children’s college education during the current economic times,” said Davis. “We want to let people know what options are available. You can easily start taking action for your child’s future college education with one of our risk-averse, highly manageable and affordable plans. Saving a small amount now will only make the challenge easier as the scholastic years roll by.”
Enrolling in the program by purchasing just one semester provides parents and grandparents with peace of mind by literally stopping tuition inflation in its tracks. Purchasers can upgrade their plan at any time to cover additional years of tuition and fees. Stopping tuition inflation is key. If tuition continues to rise at its current pace, a year of college for a child born this year could cost more than $30,000. In addition to the overall cost savings, another reason to purchase a plan prior to the end of the year is the availability of attractive 2008 tax incentives for those making contributions prior to December 31.
Not only can Illinois taxpayers deduct up to $10,000 per individual or $20,000 for married couples filing jointly, but all plan earnings are exempt from state and federal tax exemptions as well. For those who may still purchase a plan as a holiday gift for their child or grandchild, there is a gift-giving tax exemption of up to $60,000 per person.* College Illinois! applications can be completed online in less than 10 minutes at collegeillinois.com. Once an application is submitted, a payment can be made before the December 31 tax deadline.
“For those planning on purchasing a contract during our current enrollment period, it’s a great idea to complete the application before the end of the year to capitalize on the tax breaks that are available,” said Davis.
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.
College Illinois! is open for enrollment through April 30, 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:
Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), College Illinois! is a secure college funding option. Similar to an insurance policy, College Illinois! is a contract between the purchaser and the state of Illinois that ensures tuition and fee benefits for college.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than 62,500 prepaid tuition contracts with a value of more than $1.4 billion have been purchased. The program’s Trust Fund is managed by professional money managers and is subject to oversight by the program’s Investment Advisory Panel 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 affordable for Illinois students by issuing 185,000 grants and scholarships totaling more than $448 million. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites at: www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org.
*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.
SOURCE College Illinois!