Program enrollment for 2017-18 is currently on hold pending our continuing discussions with policy-makers to help define and advance proposals that will address the College Illinois! plan’s unfunded liability and strengthen the Program.
For current plan holders, the Program will continue to operate as usual with no change in benefit payments, customer service, or plan administration. Those with beneficiaries in college will continue to see benefit payments paid as usual. The Program retains a substantial investment portfolio in a separate trust fund to continue to pay obligations for a number of years without requiring funding from the state. While actuarial reports necessarily represent a point in time and could change, according to the June 30, 2017 actuarial reports, plan assets totaled about $951 million, corresponding to a 75% funded ratio, and would be sufficient to cover payments through 2024 even if the program never sold another contract.
The plan is backed by the moral obligation of the state. What that means is that the Governor is required to request funding from the Illinois legislature sufficient to pay all program benefits during any year there is a current funding shortfall. Fulfilling the State's moral obligation would take a vote of the General Assembly, but to our knowledge such obligations have historically been honored.
As part of our ongoing efforts as stewards of the College Illinois! Program, we have continued to communicate with elected officials regarding the status of the Program and potential legislative options to address the unfunded liability. Legislators have noted that College Illinois! is a good program and has well-served plan holders. Several have expressed the importance of supporting the program and their interest in working together with ISAC to address funding issues and get ahead of any future challenges the Program may face.
We look forward to working with policymakers to improve and strengthen College Illinois! on behalf of all our plan holders.
Program financial statements, including the 2017 Actuarial Soundness Report are available at http://www.collegeillinois.org/AboutCollegeIllinois/529Financials.html.