Illinois' 529 College Savings Program


Why Choose Bright Start?

In addition to all the benefits that come with 529 plans, Illinois' Bright Start College Savings Program offers:

Investment Management Expertise

Bright Start offers a range of portfolios designed to help you and your financial advisor find the right fit for your savings goal, financial situation and risk tolerance. You can choose to invest in the Age Based Portfolios, the Choice Based Portfolios or a combination of the two. The portfolios are managed by OFI Private Investments, Inc., a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds, Inc. and its affiliates, and American Century Investments®.

Wide Range of Portfolios to Choose From

Bright Start offers 10 investment portfolios that range from aggressive to very conservative. You can choose from the age based option, the choice based option or a combination of the two.

Low Fees Allow You to Earn More

Bright Start is among the most affordable 529 plans in the nation. Costs range from 0.48% to 1.21% for portfolios.

An Easy Way to Open and Maintain Your Account

Simply print out an application and mail it in. You can also manage your investments online at your convenience.

Low Account Minimums and High Maximums

You can open a Bright Start account for as little as $25. You may contribute up to $350,000 per beneficiary.2

The Convenience of Automatic Investing

Making contributions to your 529 Plan is easy with an Automatic Investment Plan (AIP).1 Any amount you designate is automatically transferred into your 529 Account on a periodic basis.

Tax Advantages for Illinois Residents

In addition to federal tax benefits, if you are a resident of Illinois, you can enjoy state tax benefits as well:

  • Your plan contributions are deductible from your Illinois state taxable income, up to $10,000 ($20,000 if married and filing jointly3) per year, including the contribution (but not earnings) portion of rollovers from other state 529 plans3
  • Any earnings grow Illinois state tax free
  • Qualified withdrawals are exempt from Illinois state tax
Stay informed about your investment


1.These plans do not assume a profit or protect against losses in a declining market.

2. All 529 plan assets, including earnings, established for the benefit of a particular beneficiary must be aggregated when applying this limit. New contributions will not be allowed once this limit is reached but earnings will continue to accrue. Consult your tax advisor for information on how 529 tax treatments would apply to your particular situation.

3. Based on informal guidance from the Illinois Department of Revenue that is not binding on the Department.