Parents faced with the daunting task of paying for their children’s college education continued to put cash in 529 college savings plans, as assets rose to $45.1 billion in the third quarter, according to data released Tuesday by the College Savings Foundation.

That represents a 55% spike from the year-ago quarter, when assets stood at $29.1 billion and a 5% increase from an estimated $43 billion at the end of the previous quarter. The state-sponsored investment vehicles offer tax exemptions to earnings and distributions made from plan accounts when used for qualified expenditures covering college costs.

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