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Awareness of College Savings Plans Increases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty-six percent of Americans know the purpose of a 529 plan, according to a survey released by the College Savings Plans Network ahead of 529 Day. The awareness number increased four percent over the first nine months of a national awareness campaign which aims to make “529” a term as recognizable as “401(k).”

In the survey, 35 percent claimed to be aware of 529 plans, while only one in four could connect 529s with education. Like other studies have found previously, higher awareness levels correlate with higher income levels. That gap is narrowing while the national campaign’s commercials air during episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids. Those with household incomes of $50k or less saw a six percent awareness increase during this timeframe – the greatest jump in awareness of all the income groups.

Along with the awareness increase, in 2019 the total number of 529 accounts grew to 14.25 million and the total amount invested increased 20 percent – a record amount. 

(Editor’s Note: An infographic demonstrating the growth in the college savings movement is available here.)

“Even at a time like this, the growth in the college savings movement is worth celebrating,” said Young Boozer, chair of the campaign.

“With so many families faced with a different economic reality now, this is the summer of ‘do what you can.’ Give yourself a break if you are not able to contribute as much as you did in the past. Keep the habit of putting money in regularly, if it’s doable, perhaps at a smaller amount. If you have questions, turn to your 529 plan administrators. They’re here to help you keep sight of your child’s dreams and the long-term financial goals for their education,” Boozer added.

529 Day is observed on May 29 by state and advisor-held plans throughout the country to increase awareness of the college savings plans. In lieu of in-person events this year, plan leaders are holding online promotions and virtual events as well as taking steps to aid their local communities. To find out what’s happening on 529 Day within the states go to



The CSPN National Awareness Benchmark Research Survey was an online survey conducted by Bozell using Survey Monkey. The study was fielded Dec. 13 through Dec. 19, 2019. A total of 2,034 respondents completed the survey, providing for a +/-2.29 percent margin of error. Participants were recruited through the survey company and through social media invitations.

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