Half of the parents that OppenheimerFunds recently surveyed don’t believe that college is as affordable as it once was, and 43% have saved less than $5,000 for their children’s college education, and another 13% have saved nothing at all. Only 20% have save $20,000 or more.

Nonetheless, 56% think that scholarship money will pay a substantial portion of the child’s college education, which is not always the reality, according to OppenheimerFunds. In the 2008-09 school year, aid in the form of grants and tax benefits averaged $3,700 for in-state students and public four-year colleges, while the annual cost was $14,333. At a private university, it’s even more” $34,132.

And most parents highly value college, with 80% saying the cost of a college education is worth it, given how it can boost a graduate’s earning power and ability to find a job.

“It’s not surprising that Americans value college so highly,” said Donna Winn, president and CEO of OppenheimerFunds Private Investments. “A college degree is still seen as a difference-maker, delivering a lifetime’s worth of benefits. At the same time, good intentions won’t be enough. In far too many families, there’s a disconnect between college hopes and financial realities.”

To help parents begin saving for their children’s college education through college savings 529 plans, OppenheimerFunds has launched a special educational website, www.collegewithinreach.com.

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