Illinois House Calls for “College Illinois” Probe


The Illinois House wants a full scale review of a prepaid tuition program.

The move Thursday follows revelations of questionable investments detailed in "Crain's Chicago Business."

The 35,000 parents who have money into the "College Illinois!" program expect they're making a sound investment in their child's future education at a state university. The plan is billed as a way to guard against future tuition hikes, but no guarantee exists if the fund runs short of cash.

Crain's reports the program is more than 30% underfunded.

The newspaper also uncovered a recent string of risky moves ... such as money being put into hedge funds ... as administrators try to make up lost ground.

State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) said being too aggressive is a bad strategy.

"This is not a fund, in my opinion, that is a good place for the flavor or the day in terms of the newest investment strategy," Hays said. "This is a fund that really aligns itself with a pretty conservative investment."

Hays said he hopes an audit will give parents renewed confidence in College Illinois. In the meantime, he said he does not encourage College Illinois participants to withdraw their contracts.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which manages the portfolio, is on record as welcoming the review. A letter to College Illinois participants says the program continues to be a "great choice."

In a separate action, the Illinois House separately approved a measure on Thursday barring members of the legislature from awarding scholarships to state universities to their family members. The so-called "General Assembly" scholarships are controversial, as some legislators gave the tuition waivers to children of campaign donors.

Story source: AP