Ask Terry Questions Bright Start — still against it??

Bright Start — still against it??

By Terry Savage on April 17, 2015 | College Savings / Student Loans

Do you still not recommend using the Illinois Bright Start program?

Terry Says:  You can start a 529 savings/investment plan using any state’s plan, and still use the money for college in any state.  There is only one reason to use the Bright Start Illinois plan, and that is because you get a deduction on your Illinois state income taxes.  Contributions of up to $10,000 for an individual, or $20,000 if married and filing jointly, can be deducted from Illinois state taxable income each year.

The Illinois plan gets good, not great, marks at, where you can compare plans based on performance and fees.  I have a long-standing and very public “grudge” against this plan, because back in 2008 during the financial crisis, one of their most secure and safe plans lost a lot of money because of the bad practices of one of the fund managers.  That manager was forced out, some money was returned to investors — but that management company still manages funds in Bright Start, and still collects fees — while all of the investors were NOT made whole!  I find that unforgiveable, and so I have always steered Illinois residents away from our state plan.

When I recently opened an account for a newborn nephew, I used Vanguard’s plan.  Here’s a link or paste the following into your browser:

SPECIAL NOTE:  We are talking about the Bright Start/Bright Directions college savings investment plans.  I also would NOT BUY the Illinois Prepaid Tuition plan — CollegeIllinois — because who knows if the state will be able to make good on its promises.  I’m speaking frankly here.  From me you always get The Savage Truth!!

Recent College Savings / Student Loans Questions



a personal
finance question