Bright Start College Savings Program -- Direct-sold Plan NEW! PDF ReportPRO

OppenheimerFunds Inc. became program manager in July 2007. The Illinois Bright Start College Savings Program -- Direct-sold Plan features a choice of blended portfolios, which combine actively-managed and passively-managed underlying investments, and index portfolios. The blended portfolios are managed by OppenheimerFunds affiliates, Vanguard, and American Century. The index portfolios utilize Vanguard index funds and a money market fund managed by OppenheimerFunds..

Resident Rating
Non-Resident Rating

Savingforcollege.com's 5-Cap Ratings provides an evaluation and comparison of 529 plans, utilizing a formula that examines dozens of factors grouped into the following categories. (Scale 0 to 5; 5 is highest)

Performance Costs Features Reliability Resident Upgrade
4.49 4.08 3.67 4.40 0.40


Program type:


How to enroll:

Enroll directly with the program. Enroll Now

Initial year of operation:

2000, but substantially changed in July 2007.

State agency(ies):

Illinois State Treasurer

Program manager:

OFI Private Investments, Inc., a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

Program distributor:

OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc.

Manager contract term:

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State residency requirements:


Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. resident individuals, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:



Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in Illinois' 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $400,000.

Minimum contributions:

The minimum initial contribution is $25, and the minimum subsequent contribution is $15. Minimums may be lowered for employer-sponsored plans.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

Choose between Blended Age Based Portfolios and the Index Age Based Portfolios, each containing 6 portfolios of underlying equity, fixed income, and money market investments. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the beneficiary's age, and later reassigned to more conservative portfolios as the beneficiary approaches college age.

Static investment options:

Select among 5 Blended Portfolios and three Index Portfolios. The Blended Portfolio choices are Equity, Balanced, Conservative Fixed Income, Fixed Income, and a Money Market Portfolio. The Index Portfolio choices are Equity, Balanced, and Fixed Income.

Underlying investments:

The Blended Portfolios invest in OFI-managed investment strategies and mutual funds, and an American Century bond fund. The Index Portfolios invest in Vanguard mutual funds.

Underlying fund allocations:

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Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup

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See Investment Options

Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:

None for Oppenheimer actively managed portfolios, $10 annually per portfolio for the Vanguard portfolio options.

Program management fees:

Blended Portfolios: 0.18% (includes 0.03% state administrative fee).
Index Portfolios: 0.14% (no state administrative fee).
No state administrative fee for the Money Market portfolio.

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Blended Portfolios: Ranges from 0.23% to 0.47%; 0.16% for the Money Market Portfolio
Index Portfolios: Ranges from 0.03% to 0.06%.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.17% - 0.65%

Taxes and other Benefits

Program match on contributions:


State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to an Illinois 529 plan of up to $10,000 per year by an individual, and up to $20,000 per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Illinois taxable income. For a rollover contribution, only the principal portion is eligible for the deduction. Contribution deadline is December 31 postmark. For tax years ending on or between 12/31/09 and 12/31/20, employers may claim a credit against Illinois tax for 25% of matching contributions made to an employee's account in an Illinois 529 plan, with a maximum annual credit of $500 per employee. Unused credits may be carried forward for five years.

State tax recapture provisions:

Effective January 1, 2007, rollovers from this plan to an out-of-state program are included in Illinois taxable income to the extent of prior Illinois deductions. Effective January 1, 2009, nonqualified distributions from this plan are included in Illinois taxable income to the extent of prior Illinois deductions.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

Qualified distributions from an Illinois 529 plan are exempt. Qualified distributions from a non-Illinois plan are exempt provided the plan meets certain disclosure requirements.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Illinois follows federal tax-free treatment except that, beginning in 2007, outbound rollovers are subject to the recapture of prior state tax deductions.

Does the sponsoring state exclude the value of an account for state financial aid purposes?


Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?


Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?


Statutory protection of an account from creditors:

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Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Eligible educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner, as directed by the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Accepts requests to transfer account ownership.

Documents, Access & Reporting

Does participant have online password-protected access to account?


Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?


Documents and other services accessible or downloadable on the program's public Web site:

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