Highly Rated 529 College Savings Plan

With Bright Start, you and your loved ones can benefit from all of the attractive benefits that have earned the Bright Start 529 back-to-back-to-back Gold medals from Morningstar.1

Gain Access to One of the Highest Rated Direct Sold Plans

For three consecutive years, Bright Start has earned a gold medal from Morningstar – the highest consumer rating given to college savings programs. Bright Start was awarded this honor because of its age-based tracks, strong mutual fund line-up, and its low costs.

Use Your Savings Nationwide

Bright Start is flexible. The money in your account can be used to pay qualified higher-education expenses at any eligible school—college, university, vocational, trade, or graduate—anywhere in the United States and even some abroad. Check out a listing of eligible schools from the Department of Education.
Top Rated 529 Plan

Great Tax Benefits

Bright Start provides excellent tax benefits, including:

  • Tax deferred growth of any earnings while in the plan
  • Tax-free withdrawals for qualified college expenses

With these tax benefits your account has additional growth potential since you will not be paying taxes on any earnings or growth each year while your money is in the plan.

Learn more about Bright Start tax benefits.

Low Costs

Bright Start has some of the lowest costs of any 529 plan. Accounts can be opened by almost anyone, including individuals, UGMA/UTMA custodians, certain legal entities, or a trust. Learn more and review Bright Start’s attractive cost structure at the Investment Center and find the strategy that best meets your needs.

Read more about other Bright Start 529 Plan benefits.

Bright Start Investment Options

Bright Start is proud to present a wide variety of investment options. Investors can select from six age-based options, six target portfolios, and 16 individual fund portfolios. These flexible and diverse investment options are from a number of well-respected mutual fund families.

Open a Bright Start Account

Tax advantages, account flexibility, low costs, and quality investment options are some of the benefits offered by a Bright Start 529 Account.

Open an Account Online

You can also

Download enrollment form     |     Request enrollment kit by mail

Important Considerations

Before you invest, consider whether your or the beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s 529 plan.

1 The Morningstar Analyst Rating™ is not a credit or risk rating. It is a subjective evaluation performed by Morningstar’s manager research group, which consists of various Morningstar, Inc. subsidiaries (“Manager Research Group”). In the United States, that subsidiary is Morningstar Research Services LLC, which is registered with and governed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Manager Research Group evaluates funds based on five key pillars, which are process, performance, people, parent, and price. The Manager Research Group uses this five pillar evaluation to determine how they believe funds are likely to perform relative to a benchmark, or in the case of exchange-traded funds and index mutual funds, a relevant peer group, over the long term on a risk-adjusted basis. They consider quantitative and qualitative factors in their research, and the weight of each pillar may vary. The Analyst Rating scale is Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral, and Negative. A Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, Silver, or Bronze reflects the Manager Research Group’s conviction in a fund’s prospects for outperformance. Analyst Ratings ultimately reflect the Manager Research Group’s overall assessment, are overseen by an Analyst Rating Committee, and are continuously monitored and reevaluated at least every 14 months. For more detailed information about Morningstar’s Analyst Rating, including its methodology, please go to global.morningstar.com/managerdisclosures/ The Morningstar Analyst Rating (i) should not be used as the sole basis in evaluating a fund, (ii) involves unknown risks and uncertainties which may cause Analyst expectations not to occur or to differ significantly from what they expected, and (iii) should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the fund. © 2019 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. back


2 Withdrawals used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal and Illinois state income tax. Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; certain room and board expenses incurred by students who are enrolled at least half-time; the purchase of computer or peripheral equipment, computer software, or Internet access and related services if used primarily by the beneficiary during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution; and certain expenses for special needs services needed by a special needs beneficiary. back