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Enrollment open for 2016-17 College Illinois

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The 2016-17 enrollment period opened Tuesdays today for College Illinois!®, the only program in Illinois that allows parents and grandparents to prepay college tuition at today's plan rates, locking out rising tuition costs and making it possible for students to limit or even eliminate student loan debt.

With the average student loan debt at $30,000 or more for those recent graduates who borrowed, according to multiple estimates, planning for college early is essential.

"We always encourage families to get started in planning for college early and with whatever they can afford," said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the agency that administers the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program. "The younger your child, the more you can save on the purchase of a plan. And College Illinois! is unlike any other 529 plan in the state because families can get something tangible for their money – college semesters – instead of hoping they have saved enough to cover college tuition."

College Illinois! offers a number of tax-advantaged, flexible tuition options and payment plans to meet each family's needs, starting at as little as $22 per month. Plus, College Illinois! is not just for Illinois public colleges and universities: students can use the value of plan benefits at any private or out-of-state school recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

A proven plan, College Illinois! has paid out over $800 million in benefits since its inception and more than 30,000 Illinois students have attended college using plan benefits.

Darrell Runyon and his wife purchased a plan when their son was in grade school.

"That has proven to be one of the best purchases we have ever made," said Darrell Runyon of Jacksonville, Illinois. "We were even able to use part of it for our son's doctorate degree. Our experience was so positive that we have bought a plan for one of our grandchildren."

The 2016-17 enrollment period runs through May 31, 2017, with enrollment for newborns open through Aug. 31, 2017. Those who enroll in the next few months can take advantage of last spring's plan pricing, before prices increase on most plans on Jan. 18, 2017.

Everyone who purchases a plan between now and May 31, 2017 will be automatically entered into the 2017 Family Memory Maker Sweepstakes, which includes a chance to win passes to Chicago museums and a four-night stay in a Chicago hotel. No purchase is necessary to enter. Visit our website for more information.

To take the first step to prepay and save, and lock in a student's future college tuition, request an Enrollment Kit on our website at or contact a College Illinois! representative at or 1.877.877.3724.

Since its inception in 1998, College Illinois! has been focused on providing an affordable option to help make college a reality for Illinois families. Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition Program offers a unique set of benefits, including protection from tuition inflation, flexibility, and significant tax benefits. Program assets, which are held in the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Trust Fund in the custody of Northern Trust, and are professionally managed by an experienced team led by a Chief Investment Officer and established third party asset managers.

More information on plan options and benefits, as well as a complete description of terms and conditions associated with the purchase of a plan, is available at