pexels photo 256468SPRINGFIELD – To help children and families build savings and open the door to college, Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a measure through the committee Tuesday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“This program gives families the opportunity to start planning for higher education from day one,” Bennett said. “In addition to giving these families a head start on college savings, this legislation gives the Illinois treasurer the necessary tools to implement the program.”

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 requires the Illinois Department of Revenue to provide the treasurer with information on tax filers claiming dependents or the adoption tax credit for the purpose of enrolling children in the program.

“All children deserve the opportunity to thrive, and this program is an investment in our children’s futures,” Bennett said.

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.

House Bill 573 moves to the full Senate for consideration.

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