Legg Mason's 2012 Intergenerational Survey of College Finances points out a lack of advanced planning among affluent Americans for their children's college education. The study looked at college funding and planning among three groups of parents with investable assets of $250,000 or more: those with children who have already graduated, those with children currently enrolled, and those who are planning to send their children to college.

Altogether, a vast majority of surveyed parents used or plan to use their current income or withdraw from other savings and investment accounts to pay for college. "The lack of strategic planning regarding college savings (including under-estimating total college expenses, starting the process too late, and failing to utilize or maximize appropriate investment vehicles such as 529s) provides a unique opportunity for financial planners," said John Kenney, head of Legg Mason Global Asset Allocation.

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