Find Your Bright Start

529 Plans are tax-advantaged savings plans that help put money toward your future student’s education. When it’s time to pay for school, withdraw funds for qualified college expenses tax-free*.

Explore the Benefits of a 529 Plan

  • Save for tuition at two-year and four-year institutions, including vocational, trade, community, state, or technical schools.
  • Cover additional expenses like room and board*, books, a computer, and more.
  • Choose from a variety of investment options.
  • Enjoy flexible contributions – that means no minimum or ongoing requirements and a high maximum.
  • Set up automatic investments from your bank account so you don’t even have to think about your contributions.
  • If you’re an Illinois taxpayer, you’ll also receive an Illinois tax deduction for contributions you make to Bright Start.1
Anyone can open a Bright Start account. The account owner and future student (the beneficiary) just need a valid social security or taxpayer identification number.

How You Can Use the Funds

  • Funds can be used to cover a variety of educational expenses Tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment; room and board expenses (if enrolled at least half-time); computer or peripheral equipment, computer software, or internet access; and certain expenses for special needs services needed by a special needs beneficiary.
  • Use 529 funds at any accredited institution This includes any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The educational institution should be able to tell you if it is an eligible educational institution.
  • Students are not limited to schools within the U.S. Certain educational institutions located outside the United States also participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs. Check out the listing of eligible schools from the Department of Education.

Ready to Withdraw Funds?

When it comes time to use your 529 plan for qualified expenses, withdrawing funds is simple. Withdrawals are tax-free at most in-state, out-of-state, and international schools (please note: funds withdrawn for nonqualified expenses are subject to income taxes and an additional 10% federal penalty tax). An account owner may request a withdrawal online or by downloading and submitting the Withdrawal Request Form.