How America Saves for College 2018

By Sallie Mae® and Ipsos

6 in 10 parents are saving for college, and one-third saved more this year.

Are you one of them? See how you compare to other American parents and get resources to help you start, strengthen, or streamline your savings plan.

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College savings are the highest since 2013

Parents have saved an average of $18,135.

Most college savings are in 529 plans

529 plans 

529 plans offer parents tax advantages that can help their savings grow faster. The average amount saved in 529s has nearly doubled since 2016, from $2,820 to $5,441.footnote 1

General savings accounts 

General savings accounts are still the most commonly used type of account for building a college fund. The average amount saved in savings accounts is $3,902, up 7% from $3,663 in 2016.

Investment accounts 

Investment accounts can yield a high return, but may be less accessible to the average saver. Parents have saved an average of $2,616 in investment accounts, 14% more than in 2016.

Parents are optimistic they'll meet their college savings goal

$55,342 average savings goal

Most parents, regardless of the age of their children, are about one-third of the way there.

86% of the parents feel confident

Most parents with a college savings goal think they'll meet their goal by the time their child enters college.

  Fewer parents plan to use their retirement savings

10% in 2018 vs 20% in 2016

Parents with a plan have double the savings

  $22,169 planners vs $9,208 non-planners

College planning tip

Kids should look for scholarships outside of colleges and universities, too. A scholarship search can help students-both undergraduates and grad students-quickly find scholarships that match their interests and area of study.

Search for scholarships

Smart habits help parents save more

Six in 10 make regular deposits to their college fund.

Three in 10 spend less on household and personal items.

Nearly one-fourth are increasing their income by working more hours.

More than 1 in 10 put the cash back from reward programs into college savings accounts.

footnote 1. Before investing in any 529 plan, please consider whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers its taxpayers benefits that are only available through that state's 529 plan.

footnote How America Saves for College 2016, by Sallie Mae, the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company, and Ipsos, the world's third-largest market research company, reports the results of 1,959 online interviews with parents of children under age 18 conducted May 26 − June 6, 2016.