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More high school students are rethinking their college plans due to financial stress caused by pandemic   

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

May 26 – CSF’s 2021 Youth Survey findings about high school students across the country show how they are emerging from a year of COVID-19 shutdowns with a shift in their mindset concerning higher education to include community colleges, technical schools and apprenticeship programs. 

More high school students are rethinking their college plans due to financial stress caused by pandemic..”

May 29 is Proclaimed National 529 Day, Led by College Savings Foundation

Nonprofit adds new features to website to help families with education funding 

Washington, DC, May 18, 2021 – May 29th has been proclaimed National 529 Day by the Registrar at the National Day Calendar, a designation sponsored by the College Savings Foundation (CSF) to encourage more families to learn about the increasing flexibility of 529 savings plans in funding their education futures.

“529s have never been more versatile for people of all incomes, ages and educational paths. As a nation, we are redefining what higher education looks like – from online universities to career and technical certifications.  And, as an organization dedicated to helping families save for it, CSF is proud to have May 29 on the National Day Calendar designated as an ongoing reminder of how valuable 529 savings plans are in attaining their goals,” said Vivian Tsai, CSF Chair.

529 education savings plans – “529s” as they are known – are a tax-favored way to save for a child parent’s future.  Originally established to pay for higher education expenses, the use of these plans, where earnings grow tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses, has expanded significantly to fund a wide range of uses throughout a person’s life:  

  • In addition to covering post-secondary education such as traditional public and private colleges and universities, career and technical schools, and apprenticeships, 529s can also be used for K-12 education, and adult education and retraining. 
  • Eligible expenses include tuition, room and board, fees, books and computers and related services.
  • Up to $10,000 (lifetime per a beneficiary) can be used to pay down a student loan.

“Just opening a 529 plan is a powerful motivator for children,” Tsai added. “Research shows that children of all income levels who have a designated savings account are more likely to attend and to graduate from college.  Meanwhile, for every dollar saved in a 529 plan, a family is avoiding more than a dollar of debt when the time comes to pay tuition or the inevitable other expenses,” she added. 

529 plans are being used by young people as well as by their parents. In CSF’s recently-released survey of over 1,000 high school students, 56% of those surveyed are saving for higher education, with 23% of them using 529 plans as their primary way to save.  69% of them reported that their parents were also saving for higher ed, with 23% of them using 529s as their primary savings vehicle.

In concert with the “National 529 Day” designation, CSF has added features to its website including a section called “Open a 529 Plan” to walk families through the process: what they’ll need to start their plan; how they can use them; ways that grandparents, family members and friends can contribute, and common misconceptions.  For example, the site clarifies the minimal effect of 529s on financial aid eligibility, and how 529 plans can be changed to benefit different children, or even the parent, depending on their individual needs. 

The CSF site includes up-to-date higher education planning and saving tools from CSF members Invite Education and  It also provides families with a central place to go for information about what is considered eligible as higher education expenses from the Department of Education and how they can use 529s and learn about apprenticeships for all ages at  

The College Savings Foundation (CSF)is a Washington, D.C.- based not-for-profit organization helping American families achieve their education savings goals.

A Year of COVID-19: High School Students Share its Impact and Save for Higher Ed, says College Savings Foundation

Survey of 1,000 students nationwide finds both negative and positive sides of school shutdowns 

Washington, DC, May 14 – High school students across the country are emerging from a year of COVID-19 school shutdowns with a range of reactions to online learning, making pragmatic plans for higher education, and taking action to save for it.  Additionally, in responding to the economic uncertainty wreaked by COVID-19 on their higher education financing plans, students shifted their directions towards public four-year schools, community colleges, technical and career schools and apprenticeships. These are among the many findings of College Savings Foundation’s (CSF) 12th Annual Youth Survey of sophomores, juniors and seniors in high schools across the country. 

In keeping with the higher savings rate overall, the students demonstrated sound financial planning with a majority, 56%, saving for higher education – up from 48% in last year’s CSF survey. These savers included 23% using 529 higher education savings plans as their primary way to save, up from 20% last year. 

“Despite the challenges that students faced this year, they are looking ahead to building better futures, both by saving for higher education and opening their sights to a wider range of college and career options.  We are also pleased to know that students understand the value of 529 higher education plans in achieving these aspirations,” said Vivian Tsai, Chair of CSF, a national nonprofit helping American families save for higher education.  

Parents, too, are saving for their children’s higher education, with 69% of students reporting that their parents were saving and 23% of those were using 529s as their primary saving vehicle. 

The survey revealed another use of 529s during the last year.  When the vast majority, 83%, of students’ high schools closed, 13% of them switched to a private school.  Nearly half of those students’ private tuition, 49%, were funded by 529 plans which allow for up to $10,000 per year to be used for funding K-12 education.

How Higher Ed Financing was Changed by COVID-19’s Economic Uncertainties

On the topic of overall higher education financing, over half, 51%, of students said that economic uncertainty had affected their plans.  Of those impacted, 53% of them said that their parents were laid off and will have less saved for college, and 44% of them said they would need to take on debt to cover the costs of education.  

Among those students whose financing plans changed, here’s how they anticipate those changes to affect their higher education plans: 

  • 21% will go to community college
  • 17% will go to work in an apprenticeship program
  • 16% will take a career and technical school path
  • 15% will go to a public rather than private college
  • 12% will work instead of going to school
  • 8% plan a gap year instead.  (11% reported no change.)
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Kids and Money: Financial gifts that last a lifetime

Steve Rosen directed his readers to CSF for our list of members’ variety of online gifting tools, crowdfunding platforms, e-gift cards, and downloadable gift certificates. He cited California’s ScholarShare529 as an example by allowing account holders to establish a gifting portal profile and share it with family and friends by email or social media.

Real Wealth Radio

Real Wealth Radio Host Jim Silbernagel conducted a wide-ranging interview with CSF Chair Vivian Tsai on college and higher education planning strategies in a pandemic. The conversation drew upon the findings of CSF’s surveys of parents and high school students on how COVID-19 is affecting their higher education, financing and career plans.