'College Illinois!' Prepaid Tuition Program enrollment runs through April 30

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[October 04, 2013]  DEERFIELD -- Illinois families can combat the high cost of postsecondary education and start to tame tuition inflation by purchasing College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program contracts between Oct. 1, 2013, and April 30, 2014. Since 1998, families across the state have purchased over 72,000 of these contracts as one tool to help pay the increasing cost of higher education and limit costly student loan debt.

"Since the program's first enrollment period in 1998, College Illinois! has paid out approximately $470 million in tuition and mandatory fees," said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the state agency that administers the program. "We take great satisfaction knowing that College Illinois! has helped over 25,000 Illinois students attend a postsecondary institution, and has done so by making every tuition payment on behalf of program beneficiaries in-full and on time."

With the start of the new open enrollment period, the tuition program has simplified pricing and payment options, making participation easier than ever.

"To help make the benefits of a prepaid tuition program more accessible, we've simplified the program," Zarnikow said. "In 2011, someone considering the purchase of a College Illinois! contract had to work through nearly 30 pages and hundreds of pricing and payment alternatives. Purchasers told us enrollment was too complicated and confusing. This year, pricing and payment options are contained on just three pages."

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The tuition program's open enrollment period is supported by a fresh look, including a new logo that instantly conveys the program's educational mission and a reimagined website, www.529prepaidtuition.org, offering visitors easy access to program benefit information and interactive tools to help determine if the plan is a suitable option for their family situation. The website also provides quick access to the plan's disclosure statement and master agreements, useful financial information, and program updates.

"Approximately 95 percent of College Illinois! applications start online, so making relevant information more readily available is a high priority for us this enrollment period. New tools and features will be added throughout the enrollment period," Zarnikow said.

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

Established in 1957, ISAC's mission is to help make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students through administration of need-based grant and scholarship programs, outreach efforts across the state and by offering College Illinois!, the state's 529 prepaid tuition plan. The commission has distributed more than $10.4 billion in grants, scholarships and non-loan aid to over 4.8 million Illinois students and families.

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