Eighty-three percent of Massachusetts parents cite saving for college as one of their top three savings priorities for 2014, according to the 2014 College Resolutions Study conducted by Fidelity Investments and the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA).
The study, which explored New Year's resolutions and college savings plans, was conducted online for a week in December 2013 among 301 Massachusetts adults who had children under 18 and had started saving for college. It found that 84 percent of Massachusetts families plan to save at least as much for college as they did last year, with 48 percent of those planning to save more.
The study also found that 50 percent of families saving for college have a financial plan in place to reach their 2014 savings goals. Survey respondents' plans included a range of strategies. Seventy-eight percent of the study's participants said they would be saving monthly; 26 percent said they would save part of their 2013 tax refund; and 20 percent said they would set aside a portion of a bonus or raise.
Thirty-four percent said they would be setting aside a portion of their children's monetary gifts for college. This is in line with another finding—almost a third of parents expect monetary gifts from family and friends to cover nearly a quarter (23 percent) of college costs. Currently, 44 percent of Massachusetts parents receive contributions to their children's college savings from friends and family. Thirty-eight percent of grandparents are contributing to savings funds.
In the high-stakes game of college costs, 32 percent of parents feel that not having enough income is still a barrier to saving more for college, while 22 percent are concerned with paying down existing debt while trying to save.
Parents are also planning to talk more with their children about the costs of college and how they can contribute, researching scholarships and financial aid, and talking to experts.