Sign up for free seminars on 529 Bright Start program

Whether you've been saving for your children's college education for years or just opened your 529 Bright Start account, you probably have some questions. Among them: How can I spend the savings on college, trade school or apprenticeships? What are the tax advantages?

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced a pair of free webinars that will provide some answers and let you ask questions of your own.

"I applaud parents, grandparents and guardians for taking the responsible step of safely saving for their child's future," Frerichs said. "We're here to answer your questions and make it easier to navigate your Bright Start account."

The first online seminar is called "The Do's and Don'ts of Spending Your 529 Savings." You'll learn what qualifies as an education expense (and what doesn't), get details on how to pay for room and board expenses and listen to a step-by-step explanation of how to make a withdrawal from your account.

The second free online seminar is titled "529 Basics: Save for College While Saving on Taxes." Maybe you're thinking about opening a Bright Start account or just opened one. You'll learn about the tax advantages of saving money through Bright Start and different approaches to socking away money.

Registration is required for each seminar, and you can sign up at That will get you a link to the session and a reminder about an hour before it starts.

The schedule of upcoming webinars is:

• "The Do's and Don'ts of Spending Your 529 Savings" from 4-5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18.

• "529 Basics: Save for College While Saving on Taxes" from 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23 or 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1.

You can find information to open an account at and a list of non-college programs that accept Bright Start Funds at

Independent analyst Morningstar rates the Bright Start Program as among the best in the country.

Treasurer Frerichs serves as trustee and administrator of the gold medal-winning Illinois 529 College Savings Programs. Money in a 529 college savings account can be used at eligible educational institutions, including public and private, two-year, four-year colleges and universities and certain technical and vocational schools. The investment grows tax-free when spent on qualified expenses.

Since 2015, Frerichs has worked with program manager Union Bank & Trust to reduce fees and ensure more investment dollars go directly to college savings. These changes have helped the Illinois 529 College Savings Pool to grow by more than double from $7 billion to $17 billion in assets with more than 800,000 accounts.

For information about the Treasurer's Office 529 College Savings programs, which have won Morningstar's highest consumer rating five years in a row, visit

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