University of Illinois System

529 College Savings Plans

A 529 plan is a type of savings and investment account in which money grows tax-free as long as the withdrawals are for qualified education expenses. Although the University of Illinois System does not offer a 529 plan via payroll deduction, employees may participate in one of the two State of Illinois 529 Plans or a 529 Plan in another state. Contributions can be made from a personal bank account.

State of Illinois 529 Plans

  • Bright Directions – A plan that can be accessed through a financial advisor/broker. See for information about this plan and forms or call 866.722.7283.

If Fee Structure E is selected on the Enrollment Form, your advisor/broker may require authorization from the university on the Fee Structure E form. Send this form to for signature.  

  • Bright Start – A direct plan that individuals can sign up for and manage on their own. See for information and to open an account or call 877.432.7444.

Both Plans allow Illinois families to save while taking advantage of federal tax benefits. View the links above for information or call the Illinois Treasurer’s office 877.432.7444. More information is available at