"A tax break to pay for college is just
the kind of tax break working families need and deserve. We must
help Illinois families secure college education for their children.
I am proud of the commitment we are making to ensure that these
dreams come true," Gov. Blagojevich said.
Beginning in 2005, Illinois taxpayers
will be able to deduct up to $10,000 paid into a College Illinois
contract during the year. Since 1998, an estimated 23,000 families
have entered into more than 42,000 prepaid tuition contracts through
the program, which is administered by the Illinois Student
Assistance Commission. Those contracts represent over 105,000 years
of college education already paid on behalf of students.
House Bill 4914 was sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne, D-East
St. Louis, and Rep. Kevin Joyce, D-Worth.
"Given the incredible rise of college
tuition over the last several years, we definitely should help
families prepare for the cost of college. Providing a tax deduction
is a terrific incentive to encourage families to consider prepaying
for college now, so they aren't faced with outrageous tuition bills
later on," said Rep. Joyce.
Each year, the College Illinois program
has a five-month enrollment period during which public university
tuition contracts and community college contracts can be purchased.
The next enrollment period will open on Oct. 27 and extend through
March 31, 2005. The program offers a variety of plans under which
contracts can be purchased, either by lump sum or through
installment payments. Students with paid contracts are assured full
payment of tuition and mandatory fees at Illinois public
universities or community colleges regardless of how much those
college costs increase in the future.
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Notably, the benefits can be used at
colleges and universities nationwide, public or private. Students
who choose to attend out-of-state or private colleges and
universities will receive benefit payments equal to the average
Illinois public university tuition and fees in effect at that time.
Participants in another state college
savings program, Bright Start Savings, administered by the state
treasurer's office, have benefited from a similar tax deduction
since 2002. The new law provides that the Bright Start tax deduction
will also be capped at $10,000 per taxpayer beginning in 2005,
ensuring equal state tax treatment for both programs.
"Families participating in either of
these successful college savings programs should receive the same
tax-saving benefits," said Sen. James Clayborne. "Anything we can do
to make it easier for families to give their children a college
education is the right thing to do."
The average tuition and fees at a state
university in 2004-2005 will be around $6,500, according to the
Illinois Student Assistance Commission, while private universities
in the state will average nearly $20,000.
on the College Illinois program can be found at
www.collegeillinois.com or by calling toll-free (877) 877-3724.
Information on the Bright Start program is available at
www.brightstartsavings.com or by calling (877) 43-BRIGHT [(877)
[News release from the