June 3, 2019
Earlier this year, after well over a year of briefings, presentations and meetings with elected officials, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) was pleased to announce that bills were introduced in the Illinois House and Senate that, if approved, would have provided greater financial protection for our College Illinois!® contract holders. Both bills had bipartisan support. The Senate Bill (first designated Senate Bill 2137 and then, for technical reasons, Senate Bill 535) was heard twice in the Senate Higher Education Committee. With over 1700 witness slips in support of these bills filed by our contract holders and others, the bill unanimously passed twice out of committee to move forward in the legislative process. The support of our contract holders was critical in letting elected officials know how important an issue this is to their constituents.
Unfortunately, with the large number of bills addressed during this spring’s legislative session and many competing priorities, the College Illinois!® legislation did not progress. ISAC will continue to work diligently with elected officials over the summer to address the unfunded liability and strengthen the program.
Over 10,800 students attended college in fiscal year 2018 using College Illinois! benefits of more than $125 million. Program enrollment has been and will continue to be on hold as ISAC works with elected officials on legislative proposals. The Program will continue to operate as usual for our current contract holders, with no change in benefit payments, customer service, or plan administration.
According to the June 30, 2018 actuarial report (issued November 8, 2018), Program assets totaled about $846.4 million, corresponding to a 73.3% funded ratio. (Note that actuarial reports necessarily represent a point in time and will change based on a variety of factors.) The Program retains a substantial investment portfolio in a separate trust fund to pay obligations for a number of years without requiring funding from the state. Based on the current actuarial soundness report, if the Program never sold another contract, funds would be sufficient to cover payments through fiscal year 2025.
As a reminder, the Program continues to be backed by the moral obligation of the state, pursuant to which the Governor would 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. Moreover, in our meetings with legislators there has been consistent support for ensuring that the state will honor all current contract obligations.
We will continue to post updates to this page, so check back for additional information.
Program financial statements, including the 2018 Actuarial Soundness Report are available at https://www.collegeillinois.org/AboutCollegeIllinois/529Financials.html.