College Savings

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“Saving for a child’s education is one of the most important investments families can make. I’m proud to administer the two Illinois 529 college savings plans. I use them to save for my children’s future education.”

- Treasurer Michael Frerichs

According to Washington University’s Center for Social Development, children who know they have a college savings account are approximately three times more likely to attend college or other post-secondary training.

Helping All Families Save

Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs is proud to offer top quality college savings plans to help all Illinois families save. He serves as the Trustee and Administrator of two Illinois 529 college savings plans, Bright Start and Bright Directions and also administers Illinois First Steps, a newly launched program providing a $50 seed deposit for eligible children to jump start their college savings journey through either Bright Start or Bright Directions.

Illinois 529 Programs

Benefits of Saving with an Illinois 529 Plan 
The Illinois 529 college savings plans allow families to save for the future cost of college while taking advantage of great federal and state tax benefits, great investment lineups, and low fees. Treasurer Frerichs has worked hard to ensure the IL 529 plans are:

•    Accessible: Any adult age 18+ with a SSN or ITIN and a mailing address can open an account. Opening a Bright Start account online takes approximately 10 minutes.

•    Affordable: There is no fee to open or maintain an Illinois 529 College Savings account. There is no minimum contribution or minimum balance. You can open an account with $1. Bright Start is among the lowest-cost 529 plans in the country and Bright Directions is among the lowest-cost advisor-sold plans.

•    Tax savings:  Contributions are tax deductible for Illinois taxpayers (up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for joint filers) and investments grow tax-free while in the plan.

•    Versatile Spending: Pay for a variety of qualified higher education expenses including tuition and fees; room and board (for those enrolled at least ½ time); books, supplies; computer and required software; special needs services for a special needs beneficiary; apprenticeship program expenses; and repayment of qualified education loans. 

•    Investment Diversity: Families choose from a diverse range of investment options to match their own time horizon and risk tolerance.


Bright Start’s Tax Benefits Help Families Save More
Effect of Saving $100 a Month for 18 Years in a Taxable vs. Tax-Deferred Account.
Benefit of Long-term Savings
Hypothetical example with an initial investment of $2,500.
*This hypothetical example illustrates the accumulation potential with a $2,500 initial investment and a monthly contribution plan at a 5% projected average annual return. The above example is based on projections and does not reflect your actual investment in the Bright Start Direct-Sold College Savings Program or Bright Directions Advisor-Guided College Savings Program. If fees were included, the return would be lower. Your actual results may be more or less.

To learn about each plan visit or You can also email We have bilingual staff ready to answer any questions you may have.