Illinois opening college savings accounts for every newborn — up to $50 in seed money per newborn

December 14, 2022

With the start of the new year, Illinois is launching its Children’s Savings Program, with each child born or adopted in the state eligible for up to a $50 deposit in the college-savings fund administered by the Illinois treasurer. Legislators created the program in 2019 (HB 2237) and set aside funding for it ($2.5 million) for the first time this year.

Additionally, under a bill signed into law in 2022 (SB 3991), the treasurer’s office will collect racial, ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic information on program participants. The office then has the authority to “make supplementary deposits to children in financially insecure households if sufficient funds are available.”

Nebraska has its own version of a college savings program for newborns, the Meadowlark Program, which launched in 2020 after legislative passage of LB 610 in 2019. That law also included two other provisions to encourage contributions to young people’s college savings accounts: 1) incentive payments to employers who match their employees’ contribution into a child’s “NEST” account; and 2) a matching scholarship program for low-income families. The availability of funds relies on state appropriations and private contributions. A handful of other U.S. states have these kinds of “seed deposit” programs for newborns and their families. California has perhaps the largest such program. It offers up to $100 for every newborn, plus another $500 for any first-grader from a low-income family.