Private College 529 Plan celebrates 10th anniversary

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, November 18, 2013

Private College 529 PlanSM (PC529), a prepaid tuition plan sponsored by more than 270 leading private colleges and universities, today announced the celebration of its tenth year helping families save for a private college education.

A decade ago, private higher education institutions turned their vision into reality for families who wanted to prepay for their children's private college education. PC529 launched in 2003 to offer future private college students an alternative savings option to the state sponsored 529 prepaid and savings plans opening across the country.

"With state prepaid plans gaining public interest, we felt the time was right for a prepaid plan that allowed families with private higher education aspirations an equal opportunity to save for their children's future," said Tom Kepple, first chairman of the Private College 529 Plan Board of Directors, past president of Juniata College and president of the American Academic Leadership Institute.

"In order to give families the unique opportunity to receive the distinctive benefits that only a private college or university can provide for its students, PC529 offers a guaranteed tuition savings option for more than 270 private schools nationwide."

Plan Growth and The Rise of Student Loan Debt

Since the plan's inception, more than 11,000 accounts have been opened. Today there are 8,300 open accounts representing 5,700 unique account owners and 8,000 unique beneficiaries. In 2003, 225 member colleges initiated the plan and over the last decade 49 additional schools joined the Plan including Stetson University and Saint Joseph's College, most recently. Since prepaid tuition certificates became eligible in 2006*, nearly 3,000 tuition certificates have been redeemed purchasing tuition at member schools valued at close to $45 million; 1,029 students have used PC529 to pay all or a portion of their tuition. As of October 30, 2013, PC529 held $295 million in assets under management.

Just as diversification1 is a 'must' for investing, it is also a critical element of any college savings portfolio, especially today when student loan debt has surpassed the $1 trillion mark and three-fifths of teens (60 percent) expect to take out student loans in order to pay for some portion of their future college education costs, according to PC529's 2013 Teen College Savings Barometer.

PC529 Account Owner Satisfaction Study

In honor of the Plan's 10th Anniversary, PC529 conducted an online survey of its current account owners and more than 500 responded. The findings illustrate that families recognize the unique value of this plan. Of those surveyed,

  • The vast majority (92 percent) would recommend the plan to a friend/relative.
  • More than half (57 percent) considered "saving on the cost of tuition" as the greatest benefit of the plan.
  • One-third (34 percent) of respondents cited "peace of mind" as the greatest benefit of the plan because future tuition costs are guaranteed.

"We believe that consumers need this plan today even more than they did when it was introduced 10 years ago, as many saw their investment accounts decimated by the economic downturn," said Nancy Farmer, president of PC529. "Prepaid college savings options that limit risk like Private College 529 Plan protect families from market volatility and tuition inflation while anticipating that their future students will graduate with fewer loans and less debt."

New College Tuition Savings Planning Resources

PC529 also has a roster of new initiatives intended for this significant anniversary year, including an enhancement of the microsite, TomorrowsTuitionToday.org, which was completed in October. Later this year, a mobile-friendly version of the microsite will be introduced as well as a user-friendly tuition calculator. PC529's brand has evolved over the last decade and the Plan's governing board understands that current and potential account owners are technologically-savvy consumers who need and want 24/7 access to account details and interactive tools that they can use and customize to their individual family's needs. Private College 529 Plan encourages families to visit TomorrowsTuitionToday.org to learn about the long-term financial planning that is required in today's economy to help recognize that a private higher education is financially attainable. This turn-key portal acts as a resource guide for families to learn more about various college savings options, promotes our member schools, and builds awareness about the Plan. The site features more than 20 member school profiles and a variety of PC529 accountholder testimonials which are accessible to current and potential accountholders.

About Private College 529 PlanSM

Owned and operated by more than 270 leading private colleges and universities, Private College 529 Plan was created by authorization of the U.S. Congress for colleges and their consortia to help families save for college and increase the affordability and accessibility of higher education. Private College 529 Plan enables families to invest in their children's future by prepaying tuition at member institutions, protecting their savings from annual tuition inflation. The educational mix of private institutions participating in Private College 529 Plan provides families with a wide range of college choices. As opposed to other state specific congressionally authorized plans, Private College 529 Plan has a national scope, with participating private colleges across the United States. It also differs in that its administrative management is by the institutions themselves as opposed to other entities. Today, Private College 529 Plan is working for 8,000 current and future students with nearly $300 million under management. For more information, visit https://www.privatecollege529.com/.