Tomorrow’s opportunities come from saving today. That’s why you’re setting money aside for higher education in the years to come. And with an investment in Bright Directions, you can enjoy several additional benefits today: tax advantages, flexibility, competitive plan costs, and investment options from quality fund families.

The Bright Directions College Savings Program offers attractive tax advantages including tax deferral on any growth in the account and tax-free withdrawals for qualified college expenses.1 In addition, Illinois taxpayers are eligible for a state income tax deduction of up to $10,000 per individual ($20,000 for married couples).2 Over time, these tax advantages, along with your investment dollars, can help provide additional savings for college.

1Withdrawals used to pay for Qualified Higher Education Costs 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; certain expenses for special needs services needed by a special needs beneficiary; apprenticeship program expenses; and, repayment of up to $10,000 of qualified education loans.

2An individual who files an individual Illinois state income tax return will be able to deduct up to $10,000 per tax year (up to $20,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint Illinois state income tax return) for their total, combined contributions to the Bright Directions College Savings Program, the Bright Start College Savings Program, and CollegeIllinois! during that tax year. The $10,000 (individual) and $20,000 (joint) limit on deductions will apply to total contributions made without regard to whether the contributions are made to a single account or more than one account. The amount of any deduction previously taken for Illinois income tax purposes is added back to Illinois taxable income in the event an Account Owner takes a Nonqualified Withdrawal from an Account or if such assets are rolled over to a non-Illinois 529 plan. If Illinois tax rates have increased since the original contribution, the additional tax liability may exceed the tax savings from the deduction.

When you invest with Bright Directions as an account owner, you control the account. You have the ability to name or change the beneficiary, select and change investments, direct withdrawals, and manage your account online.
Bright Directions is proud to present a wide variety of investment options. Investors working with their financial advisor can select from 3 Age-Based Portfolios, 7 Target Portfolios, and more than 30 Individual Fund Portfolios. These investment options are from a number of well-respected mutual fund families including T. Rowe Price, PIMCO, Dodge & Cox, BlackRock, and DFA.

All portfolios benefit from the investment oversight of Wilshire Associates, a leading global investment consulting firm that provides Bright Directions with portfolio design, due diligence, and ongoing monitoring services. Wilshire Associates originated the now-named Dow Jones Wilshire 5000SM Composite Index and other market indexes and has been helping individuals achieve their investment goals for more than 30 years.


Put the flexibility of this plan to work for you, and start saving for college today. With no required minimum or ongoing contributions and high maximums, the Bright Directions College Savings Program is a great way for you to reach your college savings goals. You can set up your account with a one-time lump sum, make contributions over time at your convenience, or set up an automatic investment plan to make saving easier.

The Bright Directions College Savings Program makes it easy for friends and family to help give the gift of a college education. Parents, grandparents, and others can make a gift to the beneficiary to celebrate birthdays and special occasions.

When it’s time to pursue higher education, the money you’ve saved with Bright Directions can be used nationwide at most accredited colleges and universities as well as trade schools and graduate schools. All public and private postsecondary educational institutions that participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid programs are eligible. Check out a listing of eligible schools at and use the “School Code Search.”