After a year of bad news, Illinois’ pre-paid college tuition program says it has enough money to get through at least 2022. But as Brian Mackey reports, changes could be in store.
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College Illinois has had a rough year. The program allows parents to buy pre-paid college tuition contracts. But poor investment returns have left it without enough money to meet its long-term obligations. That’s put the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which oversees the program, in the line of fire.
Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, has a College Illinois contract for his daughter. Even though he’s a lawyer, he says he didn’t initially realize the state was not required to honor the contracts if the program runs dry. Instead it only has what’s called a “moral obligation.” If funds run low, the commission must ask lawmakers for more money — but the General Assembly can say no.
“I think that if you’re going to induce parents and grandparents throughout the state of Illinois to participate in this program — basically say, ‘Give us your money and we’ll make sure that it’ll be there for your grandchild’ — you owe more than a moral obligation,” Durkin says.