College costs are rising beyond belief and surpassing the rate of inflation. According to U.S. News, over the past 20 years, the average tuition at private universities has jumped 157%, out-of-state tuition has risen 194%, and in-state tuition at public universities has risen the most at a staggering 237%. Understandably, saving for college has become an increasingly important financial planning goal for investors to consider. Between the complex product solutions and litany of competing financial priorities, many individuals struggle to know where to begin with college savings strategies for themselves and their children, let alone how to execute them. Many Broker Monitor firms recognize the importance of providing intuitive resources, tools and calculators to educate investors and help them formulate plans of action. To that end, this month’s report analyzes college planning resources and tools as well as information related to college savings products and accounts.
Of the 18 firms in the Broker Monitor coverage group, 16 offer dedicated college planning resources. The 89% of brokerages that provide these resources vary in the number of topics covered as well as the depth and quality of information and findability of such resources. While all firms provide related content on their public websites, fewer (75%) offer client-directed information on private sites. Although most firms present content in a standard, noninteractive article format, exemplary firms go above and beyond by offering engaging multimedia resources including videos, infographics, courses, slideshows and webcasts. Half of the firms in this report offer calculators that help users project how much they will need to save to fund their child’s education. Less common resources include 529 state tax calculators, 529 plan comparison tools, educational courses and infographics.
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