A large majority of Oklahoma parents and grandparents – 86 percent – believe it is “very important” that their child or grandchild attends college according to a recent opinion poll conducted by ShapardResearch.  The survey shows Oklahoma parents and grandparents do understand the importance and value in children pursuing higher education; however, only 43 percent have started investing or saving for their child’s or grandchild’s college education expenses.

Click here to see an infographic of the results.
Click here to see an infographic of the results.

The opinion poll, conducted via landline and cell phone to 401 Oklahoma households, unfortunately revealed that half of Oklahoman parents and grandparents believe a regular savings account is just as good as a college savings plan when asked about their saving options for college expenses. But, when looking for a college savings plan, 71 percent of those polled said tax advantages were a “very important” characteristic and 60 percent were not aware the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan offered tax advantages.

State Treasurer Ken Miller, who serves as board chair for the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, says the poll results reveal parents and grandparents know the value of a college education for their child or grandchild, but are not fully informed on the great options to save for their child’s or grandchild’s higher education.  Miller encourages parents and grandparents to look at all possibilities when planning for college expenses. There are tax advantages to be had today by investing in future college education expenses. Contributions made to an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan by April 15, 2014 qualify for a 2013 Oklahoma income tax deduction.

“Increasing the number of Oklahomans with a higher education is important for all of us who call this great state our home,” said Miller. “One of the benefits of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan is that it offers tax advantages this year and every year. The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan is the only state-sponsored plan and offers an Oklahoma tax deduction of up to $20,000 per household, per year.  In addition, any earnings used to pay for qualified college expenses are free from Oklahoma and federal taxes.”

The ability to use funds for room and board, books and other related expenses was rated as “very important” by 71 percent of Oklahoma parents and grandparents.  The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP) allows flexibility for a variety of qualified college-related expenses. OCSP funds can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment and attendance, certain room and board costs and certain expenses for special needs students.

Oklahoma parents and grandparents were also asked about the price of tuition at a state school such as University of Oklahoma (OU) or Oklahoma State University (OSU). Responses were all across the board, with the largest block of answers, 48 percent, between $10,000 and $35,000 per year. However, 1 in 5 respondents simply stated that they did not know or would not even venture to guess at the cost of college tuition. According to the University of Oklahoma website, www.ou.edu, tuition and fees for 30 credit hours would cost an estimated $8,915.50. Oklahoma State University’s website, www.okstate.edu, shows that attending OSU would cost an estimated $8,190.00 for 30 credit hours, for tuition and fees.

“We have a great resource to help parents and grandparents invest in their child’s and grandchild’s future education. This tax season, as Oklahomans are doing their taxes and thinking about financial planning, I encourage them to learn more about the OCSP and start investing in a brighter tomorrow for their loved one,” said Miller.

This survey, conducted by ShapardResearch in December 2013, is the first opinion poll since the inception of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan in April 2000. The objective of the survey was to learn more about Oklahoma parents and grandparents and their knowledge and habits of saving and investing in higher education. No state funds were used to conduct the opinion poll.

For more information about the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan or to open an account, visit the website at www.ok4saving.org or call 1-877-654-7284. You may also find Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Oklahoma529 and Twitter at https://twitter.com/OCSP529.

Additional statistics from the survey can be found in an infographic. The infographic is available to download on kochcomm.com/media. The full infographic or portions of the infographic may be used for stories.

The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc.  Introduced in April 2000, the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan currently has more than $594 million in total assets and more than 53,000 accounts, as of January 31, 2014.

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