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March 27, 2009

College Illinois!sm 529 Prepaid Tuition Program on “Firm Footing”
Plan continues to enroll new contract holders at current prices through April 30

CHICAGO— The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announces it is entering its final month of the current enrollment period for the College Illinois! 529 prepaid tuition plan with the program in solid financial shape.

“Our message to the residents of Illinois and current College Illinois! contract holders is that the program is on firm footing,” explained ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis.  “College Illinois’ assets are both safe and liquid.”

As of February 28, 2009, the value of College Illinois’ assets stood at $726,646,868.  The program has 55,527 active contracts as of December 31, 2008, including 44,148 paid in full.

The primary reason people invest in College Illinois! is the security the program affords their investment in their child’s future.  Unlike a savings plan, College Illinois! is a contract.  Each contract holder is entitled to receive the tuition and fee benefits as stated in the contract, regardless of fluctuations in the market.

College Illinois! is investing to pay benefits over decades, not just within the next two, three or five years.  As markets experience volatility, College Illinois! believes its investment discipline will help it navigate these challenging times.

“While we have incurred some short-term losses, our investment strategy is long-term and ‘mutualizes the risk.’  Unlike some of the other states, we have never stopped selling the plan,” Davis continued.  “Our cash on hand is more than adequate to pay out benefits.  In fact, we believe we are in a position of strength in the long run because of dollar-cost averaging.”

College Illinois! introduced SmartChoice pricing in Fall, 2008, with three distinct plans based on the tuition at University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), at other state public universities and at community colleges.  SmartChoice pricing puts parents and children on an educational path that best fits their needs and budget.  Choose one-to-nine semesters of University or University+ coverage, one-to-four semesters of community college coverage or a combination of both. 

“There are two things you can count on—the growth of tuition costs and the value of a college education,” concluded Davis.  “A College Illinois! contract is a great tool to fight tuition inflation, offering 529 tax benefits with the safety and security of a contract.  Like other investments, you get the maximum benefit by starting early and locking in a child’s college education at today’s tuition prices.”

Enrollment for pricing based on 2008-09 tuition will end April 30, and the next enrollment period will begin Fall, 2009.

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 both accessible and affordable for Illinois students by issuing over 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million.

In addition to administering the Illinois State Scholar Program, the Commission coordinates educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the successful Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois!sm the Commission’s groundbreaking 529 prepaid college tuition program. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org and www.CollegeIllinois.com.


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