Editor's Picks
- 3 Reasons Why Student Loan Debt Tops $1.3 Trillion
- Article Round-Up
- Research: Survey Stats on the Go
- Data: Market Sizing Update
- Last Week's Most Read Article
- 529 Conference 2016 Update
- ABLE Act Column
- Quote of the Week

529 Dash, Required Reading for Your 529 Education: The goal of the 529 Dash is to address the specific needs and concerns of advisers, accountants and estate planners who sell and service families and institutions in the college financial planning process by providing industry relevant news, product training and best practices. Building upon the product training and trends will be our editorial insight, market data and research. Also, the 529 Dash will provide opportunities for you to learn from and network with your peers based on real life case studies and forums such as the Strategic Insight 529 Dash LinkedIn Group. By reviewing these success stories on college financial planning from your peers of advisers, accountants and estate planners, the barriers to supporting your clients and building your book of business will be reduced.

Please Read, Engage and Share.

Paul Curley, CFA
Editor-in-Chief of 529 Dash
Director of College Savings Research
Twitter: @PaulCurleyBC
LinkedIn: Strategic Insight 529 Dash LinkedIn Group
3 Reasons Why Student Loan Debt Tops $1.3 Trillion
As of March 2016, the Federal Reserve has reported student loan debt to be $1.3509 trillion, as defined as, "Includes student loans originated under the Federal Family Education Loan Program and the Direct Loan Program; Perkins loans; and private student loans without government guarantees." As such, the number is defined as only those loans specifically defined as being a student loan. By the strictest definition, yes, that is the amount earmarked specifically for education. But as we all know, loans taken out for the purpose of higher education go way beyond those listed above. Based on Table 31 on page 54 of Federal Reserve's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015", this figure of $1.35 trillion excludes education debt currently owned for one's own education that was taken from a home equity loan, credit card or other forms of loans. These three additional sources of loans is by no means a trivial amount as the average home equity loan for education was $57,550, while the average from credit cards was $7,574 and the average from other types of loans was $11,969. Therefore, $1.35 trillion in student loan debt underestimates the total value of loans taken out for the goal of college financial planning. Building upon this perspective, the value of college financial planning in achieving college affordability is even higher than previously disclosed and perceived, and the value that clients will put into you for helping them with this goal is even higher than previously communicated. While they may not fully appreciate your support on college financial planning now, they will appreciate it even more later than previously projected when they get their first tuition bill and are able to pay their planned goal amount. Inversely if you do not help them plan, the pain they will feel will actually be much worse than previously expected based on this data. Have the conversation today with your clients, and create even more value for them than you may have previously perceived.
Read more
Article Round-Up
Here is what you need to know from stories released this week.
- John Shanley, CFP, Financial Advisor with Pinnacle, "529 Plans - Financial Aid Considerations"
- MF Advisers, "College Planning -- It's About More than Money"
- PLANSPONSOR, "What Salaries Can the Class of 2016 Expect?"
- Wall Street Journal, "Six Ways to Improve ‘529’ College Plans"
- LifeHealthPro, "529 plans vs. life insurance: 7 questions to ask clients"
Research: Survey Stats on the Go
Here is what you need to know from data and research released this week. 
By the Numbers:
- 84% of advisors confirm that college costs are a major concern of their clients (survey results as of 6/8/16).
- 21% of all adults with debt from their own education have education-related credit card debt, with a median balance of $3,000.
- 13% of Americans report that student loan debt is the source of their financial concern.
Data: 529 Market Sizing
This section provides the latest market sizing data of the 529 industry overall, and provides a breakout by 529 savings plans and 529 prepaid plans.
Quarterly 529 Market Sizing Data
- 12.8 million accounts invested in $258 billion assets in 529 savings and prepaid plans as March 2016
- 11.7 million accounts invested in $235 billion assets in 529 savings plans as of March 2016
- 1.1 million accounts invested in $23 billion assets in 529 prepaid plans as of March 2016
Read more
Last Week's Most Read Article
Wealthfront to Launch 529 Plan --- This week's lead story provides a round-up of articles and press releases covering Nevada's approval to establish the first robo-advisor 529 plan:
- Wall Street Journal, "Wealth adviser daily briefing: Wealthfront expands into college savings"
- PRNewswire, "Wealthfront To launch 529 college savings plan in partnership with the state of Nevada and Ascensus College Savings"
- Wealthfront, "Introducing the Wealthfront 529 college savings plan"
- Bloomberg (Video Interview), "Wealthfront Expands into college savings with a 529 plan"
- SavingforCollege.com, "Wealthfront pursuing new 529 plan in Nevada" (from May 16, 2016)
- Ignites (subscription required for access), "Wealthfront gets Nevada approval for first robo 529 plan"
Editorial Insight: As a follow-up to the media coverage, I contacted the company for their perspective on the launch. Ali Rosenthal, VP of Strategic Partnerships with Wealthfront, responded that "Most of Wealthfront's clients are 35 years old and under, and just beginning to start families of their own. As such, many of them have been asking us for guidance regarding saving for future college costs. Our young clients are still burdened by their own college debt and do not want to see their children struggle with a similar problem, which is why we're thrilled to be able offer a product that we believe is the best way to save for college." College financial planning continues to be an important step in the overall financial well-being of clients, and advisors have an increasing ability to add value to clients throughout the saving, paying and repaying process given the rapid growth in student loan debt. This balancing act is even more trying for your younger clients. Have the college financial planning discussion today with your clients.
Read more
529 Conference 2016 Update
The 529 Conference 2016 will take place from September 12-14, 2016 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando. Updates to the agenda will be announced in this section. Register today.
- Pete van Dyk, CMFC®, ETF, Mutual Funds, SMA, and 529 Plans Senior Specialist, Stifel Investment Services, to present, “Distribution Strategies: View from Independent and Regional Channels” panel.
- Chris Werner, CIMA, College Savings Distribution & Investments, OppenheimerFunds, to moderate, “529 Brokerage Implementation (Omnibus): Perspectives from the Field” panel.
Read more
ABLE Act Column
This section will cover this week's top legislative updates, product developments, news and resources relating to 529A ABLE Accounts. ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Income earned by the accounts will not be taxed when used for qualified expenses. For training on the product's fundamentals and trends, register for the upcoming ABLE Afternoon Summit on September 14, 2016.
- In May 2016, Enable Savings Plan launched a Facebook page here. Please go to the link, "Like" and "share."
- On June 1, 2016, the first ABLE account was opened and is now available nationwide through Ohio's STABLE Account program. To learn more about the launch or specific product, read the press release, the article discussing the announcement, or Plan Disclosure Statement.
This section spotlights top new resources released. Also, we include a list of key regulatory websites below as they provide fundamental product training for new students of the 529 industry, while also providing a reference section for the long-time market participants. This week we highlight the following :
- Inside 529: The Ascensus College Savings Plan Report
- "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015" by U.S. Federal Reserve includes a section titled, "Education Debt and Student Loans".
- College Coach, "Community College Education Outcomes, Using a 529 Plan to Pay for College, Greek Life" Podcast
Regulatory & Legislative Resources
- SEC - U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- IRS - Internal Revenue Service
- FINRA - Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
- MSRB - Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board
- FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- IFAP - Information for Financial Aid Professionals
Quote of the Week
"I feel that it's imperative that people know how to properly save for college (recent stats suggest too few Americans know about 529 plans - so sad)."
- Martin A. Federici, Jr., AAMS , CEO & 5 star-rated financial advisor by Paladin Registry, MF Advisers, Inc.

June 13, 2016
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