Illinois parents, grandparents encouraged to invest in tuition savings plans this holiday season before 2013 rate increase

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[December 11, 2012]  CHICAGO -- The LeapFrog might be the hot stocking-stuffer, but savvy Illinois parents and grandparents are picking up a something much more valuable for their kids and grandkids this holiday season. Thanks to the newly reopened College Illinois! program, parents can buy their children a gift that never goes out of style -- prepaid college tuition plans that allow families to secure lower tuition rates years in advance.

For just a few more weeks, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is offering prepaid tuition plans at 2011 rates, and parents planning for the future are taking advantage of the end-of-the-year discount this holiday season.

Perhaps the biggest draw for parents is that families who contribute to the prepaid tuition plans before Dec. 31 can quality for 2012 tax benefits.

"Whether it's the tax benefits, the discounted 2011 rates or the rare opportunity for a more affordable college education for your kids, the College Illinois! plans are one of the best investments you can make this holiday season," said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. "Every day, we're hearing from parents and grandparents who are excited about this opportunity to start saving for college in a way that lets them avoid spiraling tuition inflation rates."

The College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program is a state-sponsored plan that allows purchasers to lock in the cost of tuition. When a beneficiary is ready to go to college, he or she can choose to attend almost anywhere, because benefits can be used at all Illinois public universities and community colleges, or applied at most public and private institutions nationwide, according to the terms of the contract.

Contributions made toward a contract before Dec. 31 can be claimed on 2012 state tax returns. Illinois taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $10,000 per individual or $20,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those who purchase a plan as a holiday gift for their child or grandchild can claim a gift-giving tax exemption of up to $26,000 per couple.

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Since its inception in 1997, the program has served tens of thousands of Illinois families and paid postsecondary institutions nearly $400 million in tuition and fees. While about 75 percent of the beneficiaries have opted to attend college in Illinois, the program's benefits can be used at public and private colleges throughout the country.

For additional information about ISAC's College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program, visit or call 877-877-3724.

To request an interview with a member of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission regarding the reopening of the prepaid tuition program, call Joanna Klonsky at 312-307-0840.

[Text from Illinois Student Assistance Commission file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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