New York (Aug. 26, 2003) -- Most parents and grandparents aren’t saving enough for their children's and grandchildren's college education, and say they aren’t willing to put off retirement to pay for it, according to a national survey by OppenheimerFunds Inc.

Among 1,000 people surveyed who have children or grandchildren age 18 or under, 58 percent aren’t currently saving for the future college education expenses of children and grandchildren, and 68 percent haven’t tried to figure out how much they’ll need to save. And those who had calculated it were way off -- 56 percent estimated that they would need to save less than $75,000 when, in fact, the cost is much greater, Oppenheimer said.

Sixty-one percent of respondents weren’t confident they will have enough money for their child's/children's educations. Twenty-three percent plan to rely on financial aid, while 20 percent are hoping for an academic or athletic scholarship, and 19 percent said they will start saving at a different time, according to Oppenheimer’s "Understanding Consumer Knowledge of College Savings Vehicles" survey.

The majority of people ranked college third behind retirement and a new home purchase when asked to rank a list of long-term financial goals in order of priority, Oppenheimer reported. And a majority of respondents (83 percent) said they put more money towards clothes and toys than they did for future college education expenses.

While the cost of college continues to rise, people aren’t saving more. Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed have been saving less for college, and 43 percent haven’t changed their college planning strategies, Oppenheimer said. When asked how knowledgeable they are about each college savings investment option, 89 percent of respondents weren’t familiar with 529 savings plans, and 70 percent said they weren’t familiar with Coverdell Education Accounts.

-- WebCPA staff

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