The number of 529 college savings plans continued to grow in the first half of 2019, with assets reaching $352 billion by June 30, the College Savings Plans Network reported Thursday.
That represents a 13.2% increase in assets over the same period for 2018, which saw 13.8% growth in assets. There are now 14 million 529 accounts, with average account balances of $25,128.
CSPN Chairman James DiUlio, who is director of the Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program, said on a call with reporters that the increase in assets "is not entirely due to the market, since most of our plans have very moderate investment choices." With 529 investment horizons much shorter than those for retirement accounts, "it's not really managing for growth, it's managing for risk," he said.
About half of U.S. now states have some tax credit or deductions to promote 529 accounts, and a few states are working on matching grants. "I think it's probably going to be increasing," said Mr. DiUlio.
Programs in four states — Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado and Nevada — allow employers to match contributions. Some employers are interested in doing that to be competitive in the workforce, he said.