Majority of Americans Unfamiliar with 529 Plans

May 24, 2012 ( – Sixty-two percent of Americans have no idea what a 529 college saving plan is, according to a survey released by financial services firm Edward Jones.

The survey, which asked respondents to identify what a 529 plan is from a list of options spanning from “a college savings plan” to “a form of life insurance,” found that nearly two-thirds chose the wrong answer.  Approximately 14% of respondents said they could not identify a 529 plan from the list of definitions. 

Awareness for 529 plans rises with the wealth level of those surveyed. Only 27% of respondents making less than $35,000 per year identified a 529 plan, while 57% of those making between $75,000 and $100,000 annually and 62% of respondents making more than $100,000 annually identified the correct answer.   

Respondents who have college degrees were much more likely than other respondents to identify a 529 plan, with 53% choosing the correct option. This compares to 33% of respondents who attended, but did not complete, college and 29% of those whose education ended with high school or earlier.  

Nearly half (48%) of respondents with children of any age indicated they knew about a 529 plan.  Those with children between the ages of 13 and 17 were less likely (43%) than their peers with younger children to identify a 529 plan. More than half of respondents with children under the age of 13 (52%) correctly identified a 529 Plan. Those with no children were less likely to choose the correct option (30%).  

There was a slight difference in 529 plan awareness across the country. Respondents based in the Northeast had the highest levels of awareness (45%), with respondents in the Midwest following at 40%. Respondents in the West and South had the lowest levels of awareness (33% and 35%, respectively).   

To remind communities about the importance of setting education savings goals, Edward Jones’ financial advisers will be hosting a “529 Day” on May 29 at their respective branches.