According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a report issued this week by Gabriel Roeder Smith & Co. concluded that College Illinois!, a prepaid college tuition program, might require a $1.6 billion bailout from the state. If the state fails to bail out the program, funding would be completely gone by 2022.
Managed and operated by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, College Illinois! is struggling to pay for past contracts, which specifically allow parents to pay in advance and at lower tuition rates for their children looking to attend public universities in Illinois. Here are some facts about the program and recent changes:
* Crain's Chicago Business reported the prepaid tuition program named Kent Custer as the new chief investment officer who will begin Dec. 27 and start making plans to overhaul the fund.
* Controversy erupted earlier this year after a Crain's investigation revealed former Executive Director Andrew Davis made the decision to shift close to half of the program's assets from stocks and bonds into hedge funds and other investments.
* The Chicago Tribune reported that in June, statistics showed fewer families were investing in the prepaid plan after the controversial investment strategies came to light.
* The commission also saw a sharp decrease in the purchase of new contracts in addition to an increase in the number of families cancelling their contracts with the program.
* College Illinois officially halted the sale of all new contracts on Oct. 1 and the commission is working on drafting recommendations to give to lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn to fix the program, according to the Associated Press.
* The new recommendations could include changing the conditions of contracts sold, specifically allowing some adjustment from tuition inflation.
* ABC 7 News noted more than 30,000 families in Illinois hold prepaid tuition contracts with the program for more than 50,000 students in the state.
* Before stopping the sale of new contracts, contract buyers could choose to make either lump-sum purchases or installment payments over a period of time in order to lock in future tuition payments and mandatory college fees, according to the College Illinois! website.
* The costs depend on the age of the potential student and whether or not it is for the University of Illinois, another four-year state school, or a community college.
* The contracts also allow for students to attend school out of state by paying out the state's average public university tuition cost at the time of attendance.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.