College Illinois Up and Running...Again

Oct 2, 2012

College Illinois is once again open for business. The state's troubled pre-paid tuition program had previously stopped selling contracts amid reports of financial mismanagement.

College Illinois lets people buy contracts to lock-in future tuition at state schools.

Not long ago, the outlook for the program was bleak: the sluggish economy, rising tuition rates, and questionable investments left it severely underfunded.

Sales were halted and there was a personnel shake-up. Now, they've begun selling new contracts.

But the state agency that oversees College Illinois has a new board and a new executive director, and spokesman John Samuels says the state has had steady demand for contracts from new and existing customers.

He says the program is improving:

"The rate of tuition inflation in Illinois, which was among the highest in the country, has really tapered off the last couple of years." -John Samuels, College Illinois spokesman

State Rep. Jim Durkin has been critical of College Illinois. The Western Springs Republican sponsored a law that's opened the fund's investment decisions to public scrutiny. And now he says he's satisfied with the direction of the program.

"I think the best way to measure College Illinois is to look at where it was over a year ago and look where it's at today. The investment returns are better, there's a completely new group of board members, there's a completely new administration, and I'm very pleased with the progress they're making." -IL Rep. Jim Durkin

Durkin holds a College Illinois contract for his youngest daughter.

Despite the optimism, the program remains underfunded.  It can only pay tuition for all of its investors through about 2022, even though someone born this year likely won't start college until 2030.