What Makes Bright Start Special?

The Bright Start 529 College Savings Plan, highly rated by Morningstar since 2017, offers flexible investment options, low costs, and quality fund families.* Plus, for Illinois taxpayers, a state income tax deduction for contributions of up to $10,000 per individual ($20,000 for married couples).1

Features for a Brighter Future

As college savings vehicles go, Bright Start offers tax advantages not available with some other plans – but it’s the extras that make investing with Bright Start a truly stellar experience.

Low Costs

Bright Start is among the most afforable 529 plans in the country, with no minimum contribution and total fees that start at a fraction of a penny on the dollar.

Quality Investment Options

Bright Start offers a wide variety of investment options. Select from multiple age-based portfolios, six target portfolios, and 17 Individual Fund Portfolios – all from well-respected mutual fund families like Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Dodge & Cox, DFA, and more. Learn more about Bright Start investment options.

Gifting is Simple

Bright Start 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. See how to get started with GiftED.

Easy Out-of-State Rollovers

To take advantage of all Bright Start has to offer, it’s easy to roll funds from an out-of-state 529 plan into your new Bright Start 529 account. And, Illinois taxpayers can earn an Illinois state income tax deduction of up to $10,000 per individual taxpayer ($20,000 for a married couple filing jointly).1 Learn how to roll over an out-of-state 529 account into Bright Start.2

Nationwide Appeal

Bright Start has investors across the nation. Families in any state can benefit from all Bright Start has to offer: You’re not required to live in Illinois and your loved one is not required to attend school in Illinois.

Morningstar Medalist

Morningstar annually rates 529 college savings programs. Since 2017, Bright Start has been a consistent and highly regarded 529 program with its low cost, choice and diversity, and investment structure.

Flexible Contributions

With no required minimum or ongoing contributions and high maximums, it’s easy to start saving for college with Bright Start. 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 work for you. Learn more ways to contribute to your Bright Start account.

Choice of Colleges

The money you save with Bright Start can be used nationwide at most accredited colleges and universities as well as trade, technical, vocational, graduate, and eligible foreign schools. All public and private postsecondary educational institutions that participate in the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid programs are eligible. Check out this searchable list of eligible institutions.

Opening an account is easy.

Choose whichever option works best for you – and the savings amount that fits your budget best.

  • Open an account from your computer. (It only takes about 10 minutes.)
  • Download or request a complete enrollment kit, which includes a Bright Start color booklet, Program Disclosure Statement, Enrollment Form, and Rollover Form.
Get Started Now