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Roughly three quarters of Americans (72%) don’t know what a 529 college savings plan is, according to an annual survey released Tuesday from the financial services firm Edward Jones. That percentage is a small decrease in awareness of the plans from 2015, which was 66% back then.
In short, a 529 college savings plan is a financial instrument offering tax advantages when saving money to spend on a college education. The particulars of the plans can be complex and vary from state to state.
"The cost of education remains a top concern for many Americans, and yet the downward trend in 529 awareness persists year over year," said Steve Seifert, Principal at Edward Jones. "Balancing multiple savings priorities on a month-by-month basis can be challenging, but we cannot skimp on one goal at the expense of another.”
The study included 1,0006 interviews conducted over landlines and cell phones between April 28 and May 2016.
Unsurprisingly, awareness of 529 plans was higher among wealthier households and households with children. Awareness was higher among Gen-Xers (35%), who were around typical college age when 529 plans first became available in 1996, compared to millennials, who had the lowest rate of awareness (24%).