Treasurer Frerichs Expands Access to Higher Education
Treasurer’s Office Celebrates ‘529 Day’ to Increase Awareness of 529 College Savings Plans Among All Illinois Families
On May 29, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs’ office will celebrate ‘529 Day’ to increase awareness of the state’s highly-rated 529 College Savings plans – Bright Start and Bright Directions – in an effort to provide all Illinois families with greater access to higher education.
“We want to enable families to save for their children’s higher education and be comfortable investing their hard-earned dollars in a college savings plan,” said Michael Frerichs, Illinois State Treasurer. “We understand the desire parents have to save for their children’s future, as well as the potential apprehension to invest in college savings plans; therefore, my office has enhanced our 529 plans that offer a variety of investment options and flexibility for families.”
Treasurer Frerichs aims for all families to save for their children’s future. In Illinois, families with children are increasingly diverse. Today, hundreds of thousands of African American, Hispanic, and Asian children are enrolled in Illinois public universities and community colleges. In the future, the percentage of Illinois university and community college students from diverse backgrounds is only expected to rise. As such, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office aims to help all families – from a wide variety of backgrounds – save for college.
Since first being elected in 2014, Treasurer Frerichs has worked to establish Bright Start and Bright Directions as two of the most accessible and affordable 529 plans in the country by cutting costs and eliminating annual account fees, minimum contributions and minimum balances.
These efforts have helped more and more Illinois families – from a range of incomes, ethnicities and races – to start saving for college. From 2015-2021, the growth rate of new IL 529 College Savings accounts opened by families making less than $30,000 annually increased by 81% and new accounts from families making $30,000-$49,000 increased by 76%. Over that same period, new accounts opened by Hispanic families increased 68% while African American new accounts increased by 51%.
To open an account, all you need is to be at least 18 years old, a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and a valid U.S. mailing address. Anyone can contribute to an account, and there are no enrollment fees, minimum contribution or minimum balance requirements to open or maintain an account. Furthermore, earnings are free from federal and state taxes if used for qualified education expenses, and up to $10,000 in contributions ($20,000 for married couples filing jointly) to an account are eligible for an Illinois income tax deduction. With Bright Start, you don’t even need a financial advisor, and it takes just approximately 10 minutes to open an account online.
To learn more about how to save for your child’s higher education through Illinois’ 29 College Savings plans, visit www.illinoistreasurer.gov. For more information about Bright Start, visit www.BrightStart.com, and for more information about Bright Directions, visit www.BrightDirections.com.