College savings 529 plans are getting a boost from a new industry group called the College Savings Foundation (CSF). Formed by eight financial services firms, the intent of CSF is to inform, educate and disseminate 529 materials and trend data for consumers and advisers.

The founding members are: AIM, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Manulife Financial, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Strong Financial and T. Rowe Price.

At CSF's second board meeting, the group decided to focus on two goals: government affairs and information. CSF plans to gather trend statistics and demographic data through the states and plan administrators to get a sense of who is using 529 plans.

Estimated combined assets of 529 prepaid tuition plans and 529 college savings plans totaled $28 billion at the end of 2002, according to Financial Research Corp. Investors contributed more than $10 billion in new investments to 529 plans in 2002.

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