CSF Type: Career Path

Rich Polimeni Told Frank Mottek How Parents Are Saving for Their Children’s College, How To Use 529s and Access Through Financial Advisors.







To hear interview, slide cursor to 10:30.

Frank Mottek of Mottek on Money, CBS Radio – LA KNX10.70

Rich Polimeni told Frank Mottek how parents are saving for their children’s college, how to use 529s and access through Financial Advisors.

529 College Savings Plans Pave Promising Future for American Families Across Incomes

75% of 529 College Savings Plan Owners are in Middle-Class Families

Washington, DC – 529 college savings plans stand out as popular and effective planning and saving tools that both encourage and enable American families across income levels to prepare for the costs of higher education.  New research released by Strategic Insight, an independent financial research and data analysis organization, shows that a large majority of 529 users – 75% – have household incomes of $150,000 or less.  Most participants  represent solidly middle-income families – and lower-income households also recognize the benefits and need for targeted college saving, with a full 17% of 529 families having household income of $50,000 or less.

“529s are a valuable savings tool for all American families, from two-income households of teachers and firefighters, to families putting aside $25 a month for a first-generation college student,” said Richard Polimeni, Chair of the College Savings Foundation.

“These new numbers show strength in 529 ownership in every income bracket from $25,000 to $150,000,” said Paul Curley, Director of College Savings Research at Strategic Insight.   A recent national survey by SI indicated that 32% of 529 users have household incomes of less than $75,000, 49% have incomes below $100,000, and as stated before, 75% have incomes below $150,000.

Not only are 529 plans embraced by families as affordable options, but they also are an efficient tax-advantaged vehicle for families.  According to a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, federal tax benefits for current expenses are much more costly than those which incentivize planning and saving, with 529 plans and other savings incentives coming in at less than one-tenth the cost of the largest tax incentive, the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Only 529 plans involve a long-term commitment by families to plan for the future cost of higher education through saving and investing and future planning, vital factors in tackling the nation’s current $1.3-trillion in student loan debt. All college savings plans are sponsored by nonprofit state agencies which work with families on goal setting and financial education in addition to providing college savings investment options.

“College and career planning are life decisions as well as financial ones,” Polimeni said. “Plan sponsors and advisors work with individuals and families over the course of many years as they aspire to higher education, learn about college funding strategies, and reduce dependence on crippling debt.”

Demonstrating the current interest in college savings in Congress, U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ron Kind (D-WI) recently introduced H.R. 529, known as the 529 and ABLE Account Improvement Act of 2017. It encourages more college savings by eliminating perceived barriers, encouraging more participation by employers and further enhancing program flexibility.

On March 14-16, CSF will address innovations in college savings at its conference in Charleston, SC, “College Planning Challenges and the Role of 529 Plans.”  President of Washington College Sheila Bair will present new initiatives she is advancing to encourage savings, reduce college debt, and free up students for brighter futures.  Speakers will present tools to help families assess their child’s preferred higher education path –  including affordable community college and vocational training programs through graduate school – and how to start early to build the strategies to fund their goals.

The Strategic Insight data is based on a nationally representative survey of over 1,000 parents or legal guardians with children under the age of 18 earning over $25,000 fielded in February 2017.

The data corroborates CSF’s findings from its annual State of College Savings survey of 800 parents across the country and income levels, which in 2016 found that 67% of all parents were saving for college and 32% of all parents owned a 529 plan.

To learn more about CSF, see

To learn more about Strategic Insight, see

FINANCIAL ADVISOR “Most High Schoolers Are Saving For College”


An online survey conducted this year by the College Savings Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, finds that high school students are taking increased initiative to save for college.

According to the seventh annual “How Youth Plan to Fund College” survey, 60 percent of high school students, the highest level since 2010, are saving for college, compared with 51 percent in 2015. The percentage of students who plan to help pay for their college costs also hit its highest level this year since the survey’s inception, climbing to 89 percent from 75 percent a year ago.

Of the more than 500 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors nationwide who responded to the latest survey, 53 percent said they already have jobs to accumulate savings for higher education and 63 percent plan to work while attending college.

Mary Morris, the chair of the College Savings Foundation, thinks the steady increasing trend in student savings partially stems from additional family dialogues about funding college and parental modeling of good savings behavior.

This year, 86 percent of students have spoken with their parents about their involvement in funding college — a 14-point jump from 72 percent in 2015. More than three-quarters of students who are saving for college (79 percent) have parents who are also savings for the student’s education.

Exactly three-quarters of the parents of student savers have saved more than $5,000 for college. Meanwhile, 68 percent of the parents of all the students surveyed have saved more than $5,000 for college, well ahead of 58 percent last year.

“You’ve got to have a plan and everyone’s got to be involved,” says Morris, who is also the CEO of Virginia529 College Savings Plan, the nation’s largest 529 plan. “If the lessons stick, the kids see that.”

Morris has also observed some students take the initiative by pulling their parents over to the Virginia529 College Savings Plan’s booth at sporting events and the state fair. Sometimes the parents are more hesitant, she says, and it’s obvious they haven’t spoken to their children about college funding.

Among the high school students surveyed this year, 78 percent have saved at least $1,000, with 32 percent indicating they’ve saved more than $5,000. Although $1,000 may not seem like much money in the scheme of college sticker prices, “if you don’t have it it’s huge,” says Morris. Families that receive financial aid typically wind up with a funding gap of a couple thousand dollars, she says, and this savings can be used to pay for books and fees.

Savings accounts are the primary vehicle in which 71 percent of high school students are saving for college and 20 percent are using 529 college savings plans. Morris sees this as an opportunity to reach more people about the benefits of segregating college savings in a 529 plan. “Bucketing really helps,” she says, noting that kids with dedicated college savings are more likely to attend college.

Only 37 percent of the students surveyed know that 529 college savings plans can also be used to fund graduate education and lifetime learning. But nearly all (91 percent) know that financial aid can include loans, which require repayment. And 85 percent plan on getting scholarships, up from 78 percent last year. Although 71 percent says they will or may borrow money outside of financial aid to attend college, up from 55 percent last year, three quarters of these potential borrowers are concerned about paying back loans.

Morris says Virginia now requires high school students to study personal finance and economics. She has also gone into first grade classrooms through the Virginia529 College Savings Plan to help students learn about wants and needs. “Financial empowerment is giving people tools to do the right things,” she says.