College Illinois gets a reboot

Aug 22, 2012

The state's  prepaid tuition program will soon be back in business. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission voted last week to reopen College Illinois on Oct. 1.

John Samuels is a spokesman for ISAC.

He says the agency tentatively plans an $800,000 ad campaign to promote the program.

College Illinois lets parents buy contracts to lock in tuition costs at public universities years before students go to college. The commission stopped selling contracts last fall after a study found the fund had a 30 percent shortfall and management problems came to light.

Samuels acknowledges that the investment fund remains underfunded. But he says the commission's leadership has been overhauled and is working to make sure its operations are more transparent.

Audit findings

An audit released in May found that College Illinois was beset by shoddy management, including possible conflicts of interest by top officials, as it went underfunded and administrative costs tripled. The audit found that the commission circumvented rules for hiring investors and instead engaged in a process "that lacked consistency, transparency, independence, documentation and compliance" with state law.

By that point, Gov. Pat Quinn had cleaned house at the commission and the program's new managers quickly embraced Auditor General William Holland's findings and pointed out the actions they had taken to fix the problems.

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