Education Desk: Sales Lag For Illinois' Prepaid Tuition Plan

Dec 6, 2016

Parents and grandparents who want to lock in tuition rates for their offspring can enroll in College Illinois! The punctuation is part of the registered trademark.


But despite the clever branding, excitement about the plan seems to be waning, thanks to the ongoing state budget impasse.

Eric Zarnikow, director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says contract sales fell to just 500 last year, down from 650 the year before, probably due to the ongoing budget impasse and concerns it has raised in higher education.

But he says the plan still provides parents and grandparents with a way to ensure kids get to go to college by starting monthly payments while they're still young.

"You pay a fixed amount today and then we cover whatever those future tuition and mandatory fees are for the schools in the program that you purchase," he says.

Zarnikow says people need to know that the funds are held in a separate trust, managed by independent investors. And if the beneficiary chooses to leave Illinois, the funds travel with them.

"Although the plan is tied to the public universities and community colleges, the benefit of the program or the value of the program can be used at almost any in-state private school or private or public out-of-state school as well," Zarnikow says.

Open enrollment continues through May; registration for newborns runs through August.