529 plan assets record 8.6% gain in 2016

Total assets invested in 529 plans reached $275.1 billion as of Dec. 31, an increase of 8.6% over the previous year, according to a report from the College Savings Plans Network.

The total number of 529 plan accounts, meanwhile, increased 3.2% during 2016 to 12.9 million accounts as of Dec. 31. The average account size rose 6% to $21,383 as of Dec. 31 from $20,190 at the end of 2015.

Overall contributions to new and existing 529 plan accounts in 2016 totaled $26.9 billion, up from $25.7 billion the previous year. More than 54% of all accounts received contributions in 2016, according to the report.

Distributions from new and existing 529 plan accounts in 2016 totaled $20.2 billion, up from $17.2 billion in 2015. About 13% of accounts took a distribution in 2016.

“Findings from the 2016 year-end 529 report demonstrate that American families are selecting 529 plans to save for college, and continue to make contributions to the plans in preparation for the increasing cost of tuition,” said Young Boozer, Alabama state treasurer and chairman of the College Savings Plans Network, in a news release.

The College Savings Plans Network, a national non-profit association and an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers, collected data from 108 plans around the country. The report is available on its website.