529 savings grow 9.8% in 2006 first quarter

Figures compiled by the College Savings Plan Network (CSPN) show that assets in 529 savings plans grew to $75.3 billion at March 31, 2006, up 9.8 percent from the $68.6 billion in assets at December 31, 2005. The March 31, 2006 total represents a 36.7 percent increase over the March 31, 2005 figure of $55.1 billion.

States experiencing over 50 percent growth in their 529 savings plans over the 12 months ended March 31, 2006 included Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania. In terms of dollars, Virginia gained most total assets ($5.2 billion) while New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, and Nevada each gained between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. The CSPN survey does not break out the figures when a state has more than one 529 savings plan.

Prepaid tuition plans grew at a slower pace. Total assets in prepaid plans stood at $12.6 billion at March 31, 2006, up 2 percent from December 31, 2005 and 12 percent from March 31, 2005. Prepaid plans in Washington, Virginia, Illinois, and Maryland registered asset growth of over 30 percent for the 12-month period.

The total number of accounts at March 31, 2006 stood at 6.6 million in 529 savings plans and 2.0 million in 529 prepaid tuition plans.

Separately, data compiled by Financial Research Corp. for the College Savings Foundation, a trade organization, shows that estimated net sales in 529 savings plans exceeded $5 billion in the first quarter. This represents the highest quarterly net sales ever reported.

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