College Plans Rated Best in the Nation

From Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Since I took office, I’ve made it a priority to create college savings programs that Illinois can trust. I am very proud to announce that our 529 college savings plans have been rated best in the nation by independent analyst Morningstar.

Illinois’ Bright Start College Savings Plan received gold medal honors for the second consecutive year. Bright Start accounts are offered directly to individuals. Bright Start was one of only four 529 plans in the country to receive a Gold rating.

The Bright Directions Advisor-guided Plan received a silver medal for the fourth consecutive year. No gold medals have been awarded in the advisor category. Bright Directions accounts are sold through financial advisors.

We are proud of these rankings and the progress we have made to improve our 529 Plans and ensure that Bright Start and Bright Directions continue to offer high quality investment options at low costs. We are honored that Morningstar sees the value in our Programs.

According to Morningstar, Bright Start is considered a “Valedictorian” among its peers and continues to be one of the highest-rated plans in the country, thanks to its investment diversity and choice, low costs, and overall structure.

Morningstar recognized Bright Directions for its low-cost, well-constructed age‑based portfolios, and exceptional selection of individual options.

Morningstar assigns Gold, Silver, and Bronze Plan ratings based on five key Pillars: Process, Performance, People, Parent, and Price. This year, both Bright Start and Bright Directions earned an upgrade in the Parent Pillar, which measures if the plan’s leaders are good caretakers of college savers’ investments.

 In the past four years, we have worked to reduce fees so that more investment dollars go directly to college savings, which will result in less student debt. These changes have helped the plans grow to more than 600,000 accounts and more than $10 billion in assets.

The Bright Start and Bright Directions Programs are additional examples of ways the Illinois Treasurer’s Office is invested in you. We hope it pays dividends for your children throughout their lifetimes.


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