College Savings Plans Network Finds American Families Are Saving for Higher Education

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The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), a leading non-profit resource for comprehensive and unbiased information on 529 college savings plans, announced today the findings of its latest 529 Report. According to the report, contributions to new and existing 529 accounts nationwide totaled more than $9.25 billion during the first half of 2010 as compared to $12.94 billion in contributions for all of 2009. Additionally nearly half of all 529 plan accounts received contributions during the first half of 2010.

Assets in 529 Plans Nationally

The data from this report demonstrates that saving for a college education continues to be a priority for parents and grandparents, even in uncertain market conditions.

The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), a leading non-profit resource for comprehensive and unbiased information on 529 college savings plans, announced today the findings of its latest 529 Report. According to the report, contributions to new and existing 529 accounts nationwide totaled more than $9.25 billion during the first half of 2010 as compared to $12.94 billion in contributions for all of 2009. Additionally nearly half of all 529 plan accounts received contributions during the first half of 2010.

“The data from this report demonstrates that saving for a college education continues to be a priority for parents and grandparents, even in uncertain market conditions,” said Joan Marshall, Chair of CSPN and Executive Director of College Savings Plans of Maryland. “Data from the first half of this year demonstrates that American families are saving more for their children’s future and see 529 plans as an effective vehicle for meeting their goals.”

CSPN’s 529 Report includes data from 105 savings and prepaid 529 plans across the country. 529 plans are offered in all 50 states. CSPN, which is affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers, aggregated the data, including assets held in 529 accounts, contributions and distributions for the time period of January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2010.

Among the highlights of the mid-year 2010 529 Report:

  •      There are more than ten million 529 plan accounts open nationally. “According to a 2010 projection by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 76 million children 18 years old and younger in America,” said Marshall. “We are starting to see a greater percentage of families using 529 plans to save for higher education, but there’s a long way to go. We really want to challenge American families to increase this number. By contributing as little as $25 a month in most plans, parents and families can help their children avoid significant student loan debt in the future.”
  •     Overall investment returns across all 529 plans were down an average of 2.8 percent for the first six months of 2010, as compared with a negative 6.7 percent return for the S&P500 and a 5.3 percent return for Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index during the same period. However, the returns of individual investment options in 529 plans varied due to the account holder’s ability to invest in a variety of investment strategies including fixed income, equities, guaranteed return, or a blend of these strategies.
  •     The average 529 plan account balance was $13,425 as of June 30, 2010. “Our data shows that the average 529 plan account balance at the end of 2007 was $14,932,” added Marshall. “The average value of a 529 account has returned to nearly 90 percent of what it was before the market downturn in 2008. We believe that is a positive sign for those who agree that college savings is a long term investment and our country can be more prosperous when our children have more education.”

“Overall, the CSPN 529 Report provides very good indications through the first half of 2010, and as the economy stabilizes, our hope is that these metrics will improve more by year end,” concluded Marshall. “American families want the brightest future possible for their children, and we encourage them to start saving early to help their children achieve their higher education dreams.”

For more information on the CSPN 529 Report, visit http://www.CollegeSavings.org.

About College Savings Plans Network (CSPN)
College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) is a leading voice for Section 529 College Savings Plans, one of the most popular, convenient and tax-advantaged ways to save for college. CSPN is a not-for-profit association affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) that brings together state administrators of 529 savings and prepaid plans as well as their private sector partners. Information that families of all income levels can use to make informed saving decisions is available on CSPN’s Web site, http://www.CollegeSavings.org.

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