Many parents are looking for more conservative options in 529 plans and are even thinking of forfeiting the tax breaks the plans offer and investing money on their own in bonds, fixed annuities or real estate, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Certainly, investments in 529 plans dropped significantly by about 65% in 2008 from the two years prior, with the plans taking in just $5.2 billion last year, compared with $15.5 billion in 2006 and $15.2 billion in 2007, according to Financial Research Corp. Year to date, parents have entrusted $4.8 billion to 529 plans.

As one investor put it, “The theory [of 529s] is really, really food. But until you experience the losses, you don’t realize how many questions you should have asked.”

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