SPRINGFIELD – Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) moved a plan through the Senate Wednesday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“This program helps children build a financially secure future from day one,” Bennett said. “This legislation would also give the Illinois treasurer the tools needed to implement the program to help eliminate barriers to families saving for college.”

In 2019, the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, established as part of the Illinois treasurer’s existing Bright Start and Bright Directions programs, was signed into law. Under this law, the treasurer will automatically deposit $50 into a college savings account for every child born or adopted in Illinois after Dec. 31, 2020.

Bennett’s legislation requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide the treasurer with information on recent births and adoptions in Illinois for the purpose of enrolling children in the program beginning in 2021. Additionally, the legislation also requires the Illinois Department of Revenue to provide the treasurer with information on tax filers claiming dependents or the adoption tax credit for purposes of enrolling children in the program.

“A small amount of savings can make the difference in whether a child attends or completes college,” Bennett said. “It’s vital that we continue to work to improve this program so that we can expand educational opportunities for families across the state.”

The legislation adjusts program eligibility to children born on or after Jan. 1, 2023 to acknowledge the lack of funding and legislative appropriation due to COVID-19.

Senate Bill 166 passed the Senate and moves to the House for consideration.

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