February 2021 Treasurer’s Note by Treasurer Michael Frerichs
We have reached another milestone: A record-shattering $15 billion is invested in the state’s two most popular college savings programs, Bright Start and Bright Directions.
In a short five years, we have more than doubled the amount saved for college and saved families $100 million by negotiating the reduction or elimination of different fees.
College savings is very important to me. Attending college changed my life — as did the student loans I had to repay. Saving for college now will reduce future debt. Funds saved in Bright Start or Bright Directions can be used at thousands of colleges and universities across the country.
However, I also understand that college is not for everyone. As the son of a truck driver, I know that a reliable, hard-working electrician, or plumber, or machine operator is worth their weight in gold. That is why Bright Start and Bright Directions also can be used at trade and technical schools.
Bright Start is a college savings plan an individual can open without assistance. Bright Directions is a college savings plan an individual can open through a financial advisor. Both are 529 tax-advantaged plans, meaning the investment grows tax-free when used for qualified expenses, such as tuition, housing, or books. Additionally, deposits are tax deductible in Illinois.
Morningstar, an independent investment and research firm, has consistently rated each plan among the best in the country since we orchestrated improvements to the plans’ structure, investment lineup, and price.
I consistently say that although the treasurer’s office invests money, we must also invest in people. We invest in people by helping people help themselves. Saving for college is a critical part of this mission.
For more information, or to open an account, visit www.illinoistreasurer.gov and click on the college savings button. There is no minimum amount to open an account.
Whatever your dreams are for your child, know that Bright Start and Bright Directions can help reach that goal.