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SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to help children and families build a meaningful college savings fund, Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed a measure through the Senate Thursday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“The price of a college education can be overwhelming when you add up tuition, books and student fees,” Bennett said. “It’s important that families start building a savings account for their children now so they are prepared for the future.” 

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.

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.

“These accounts matter and have the potential to change lives,” Bennett said. “This legislation gives the Illinois treasurer the necessary tools to implement the program, offering families across the state a head start on college savings.” 

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 passed the Senate and the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor for approval.

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