CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said he’s made what he calls “sweeping” changes to the state’s Bright Start and Bright Directions college savings programs.

Treasurer Michael Frerichs said parents and others saving for colleges will now have more investment options with Bright Start and Bright Directions, and will pay less to make those investments. WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

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State Treasurer Michael Frerichs discusses Bright Start College Savings plan. (WBBM/Craig Dellimore)

“With our college savings contracts expiring this summer, we wanted to leverage the situation to ensure we are offering the best possible investment products at the most affordable prices.”

Frerichs said families that invest in the Bright Start and Bright Directions saving plans will soon see the average fees charges by the various funds cut by about half.

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He said the programs have growing enrollments. But, he admits, some people may be hesitant to invest because of the headlines about Illinois’ financial problems.

“I think that is a potential problem, or a concern, but I think we have gone out and we have made improvements – improvements that significantly reduce fees families are paying by approximately 50 percent.”

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But Frerichs stresses that the College Savings plans are separate, independently run funds that have nothing to do with state finances.