With the state again pushing enrollment in its College Illinois pre-paid tuition plan, central Illinois State Senator Jason Barickman says he's concerned families don't understand the magnitude of its financial risk. The Bloomington Republican is sponsoring two bills aimed at creating certainty for parents. Barickman says the state simply can't keep up with the 129% tuition rate increases over the past ten years. He wants parents enrolled in College Illinois to have more flexibility with their funds.
"Preserve the program that's in place so those who hold current contracts know that they'll be fulfilled; that we aren't continuing to acrue this unfunded liability that someday is going to require the state of Illinois to bail this program out."
College Illinois is one of three so-called 529 college savings plans offered but it's the only one that locks in tuition rates at the time of investment. Barickman says if only 1,000 College Illinois contracts are sold per year, it would run out of cash beginning in 2027. Barickman says College Illinois' unfunded liabilities at the end of fiscal 2013 were nearly $450 million. College Illinois stopped selling contracts earlier in the decade after a management scandal.
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