Spoil Them Smarter

The trick to being the best grandparent? Saving for your grandchild’s future with a Bright Start 529 College Savings Plan.

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Toys Won’t Help Pay for College — But You Can

Give your grandchild a gift that lasts. By opening a Bright Start 529 College Savings Account, you can invest in their future and help make college a reality. Grandparents just like you are saving with Bright Start because it makes planning for higher education easier with low fees, flexible investing, and a strong mutual fund lineup.

You already spoil your grandchild. Now spoil them smarter with Bright Start.

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Trusted by Grandparents Everywhere

Preparing for a child’s future is a family affair. See how grandparents like the Rzepkas save with Bright Start to help their grandchildren and children at the same time.

The Rzepka Family

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This is one way to give your child more direction toward a brighter future. It’s one of the best things you can give your kids or grandkids. Give them a head start on their future.
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How to Save Smarter with Bright Start

Easy, Effective Investing

Bright Start account owners enjoy yearly tax benefits which, combined with low fees, makes it one of the most affordable college savings plans in the nation.

Discover why Bright Start’s investment mix and flexibility make it easy to save for your grandchild’s education.

Beginning in December 2023, distributions from grandparent-owned 529 plans will no longer be treated as untaxed student income in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which previously reduced financial aid eligibility and cash support.

Investing Made Simple

Learn how a 529 college savings plan account is easy to set up, contribute to, and manage — regardless of your investment style.

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Highly Rated for a Reason

Tax benefits, high-quality investment options, and lots of versatility set Bright Start apart from the rest.

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Savings for Every Tax Season

Planning for the future comes with perks, like generous state income tax deductions1, tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals for qualified educational expenses.2

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Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers

  • It’s a personal choice. Whichever route you choose, Bright Start makes it easy to save for college. A child can have more than one Bright Start account.

  • Yes. A gift contribution from a non-account owner is eligible for the Illinois state income tax deduction. The person making the contribution may report it on their Illinois 1040 – Schedule M. You will need the Bright Start account number (supplied by the account owner) or a copy of the canceled check. Learn more about tax benefits and reporting through our Tax Center.

  • Enroll online or call 877-432-7444 for an enrollment packet. You may also download an enrollment form that can be sent via regular mail once completed or request an enrollment kit with information to be mailed to you.

  • Anyone can, and Bright Start’s GiftED program makes it easy for family and friends to make contributions to your grandchild’s account.

  • No. Many beneficiaries will attend Illinois schools, but your Bright Start account funds are eligible to be used at accredited schools nationwide and some foreign schools too.

  • Overall, a 529 college savings plan has minimal effect on financial aid, and recent changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should have a positive impact on how grandparent-owned 529 plans are treated.

    Beginning in December 2023 for the 2024-25 academic year, FAFSA will no longer report distributions from a grandparent’s 529 plan as untaxed student income, which previously had the potential to drastically reduce a student’s aid eligibility and cash support.

  • Yes, and it can help you save on taxes. You should review your existing out-of-state 529 with your tax professional first and consider any surrender charges or penalties the out-of-state 529 plan may impose.

  • Your Bright Start account funds can be used to cover a variety of qualified educational expenses, such as: tuition and fees; books, supplies and equipment; room and board expenses for students enrolled at least half time; computer or technical equipment; and special needs services for any special needs students.

  • Public and private colleges and universities, vocational, trade, technical, and professional institutions, and even some foreign schools are eligible. They need only meet the accreditation criteria and be eligible to participate in Federal Student Aid programs. Check out a listing of eligible schools from the Department of Education.