College graduates who applied sound planning with following their passions had a much more satisfying college experience—and less debt—than those who did not, according to a study from Fidelity Investments.

Graduates from the class of 2011 had $39,900 in average debt, while those who graduated in 2009 and 2010 had an average of $53,900. Also, 40% of all graduates polled by Fidelity, and who had saved for college, said their families worked with a financial adviser. It appeared to pay off, as these families carried 20% less debt than the average graduate, and were three times as likely to have 529 college savings plans.

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