Contact: Amy Eisenstein, 630-878-9701, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, April 9, 2022 — The Illinois General Assembly approved a state budget that includes $2.5 million in funding for the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, otherwise known as Children’s Savings Accounts. Parent leaders and advocates of the Financial Inclusion for All Illinois coalition have long called for an investment in the future of Illinois’ children and families. Advocates celebrate that the program, which was signed into law in 2019, will finally be funded in 2023.
After the budget is signed into law, all children born or adopted after December 31, 2022, will receive a $50 seed deposit in a Bright Start 529 college savings account. However, parents must claim this seed deposit by their child’s 10th birthday. Advocates warn that only 30% of Illinois families will be able to claim the deposit without further investment and effort by state officials to make the program more robust, accessible, and equitable. The statewide CSA program will be managed by the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.
“I have advocated for a statewide Children’s Savings Account program for nearly a decade. In 2019, when the program was signed into law by the Governor, we thought our fight was over. But the pandemic hit, and the program was never funded. We are glad to see this appropriation so that the program can finally get started. It will also take more funding in future years to ensure that all families who could benefit will be able to participate.” — Rosazlia Grillier, Co-President Emeritus of POWER-PAC IL
Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are proven to boost hope for the future, especially among children who may not already have college-going aspirations. They are also proven to reduce maternal depression, improve early childhood outcomes, and, with the right features, promote equitable access to higher education. The savings accounts can be used for books, computers, college or university tuition, and at other post-secondary institutions like trade schools.
“As a parent of three children, I have spent years advocating for a CSA program. I didn’t go to college, but my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship. Once the CSA program is fully funded, we will be sure that more families like mine will have hope for the future and an investment in their children’s potential early on. Thank you to our legislative champions, Senator Pacione-Zayas and Representative Collins!” — Liliana Olayo, Co-President of POWER-PAC IL
During the Illinois General Assembly’s legislative session, Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and Representative Lakesia Collins, champions for the statewide CSA program, also passed a bill to prioritize equity in the program implementation. Once signed into law, the measure requires the State Treasurer’s Office to collect socioeconomic, geographic, racial and ethnic data on program participants to understand whether the program is reaching community members who face systemic barriers to wealth-building and would most benefit from a jump-start in their college savings. It also gives the Treasurer’s Office the option to provide automatic bonus deposits in the accounts of children from financially insecure households.
“Thank you to the Illinois General Assembly for ensuring that this program can kick-off in 2023. The pandemic has caused many families to lose hope – but this CSA program restores some of that hope for children across Illinois. Our coalition urges legislative leaders to continue to invest in this crucial program over the long-haul.” — Amy Eisenstein, Financial Inclusion for All Illinois Coalition Manager with Heartland Alliance
Financial Inclusion for All Illinois is a coalition committed to expanding access to the tools Illinois families need to build financially secure futures. Its Children’s Savings Account Committee includes leaders from Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), POWER-PAC IL, Woodstock Institute, YWCA Metro Chicago, VOCEL, Start Early, Legal Action Chicago, Chicago Urban League, I-PROMOTE IL, Children’s Home and Aid, and Heartland Alliance.