The Tuition Plan Consortium said Monday it re-launched Independent 529 Plan as Private College 529 Plan, to foster pre-purchasing of tuition fees as present rates.

The consortium said its Private College 529 Plan will offer investors a way to lock in tuition rates at more than 275 private colleges and universities.

The plan "is a powerful tool to help clients combat tuition inflation without incurring market risk,” said Raquel ‘Rocky’ Granahan, senior vice president and director of College Savings at OppenheimerFunds. “Whether used as a stand-alone savings vehicle or in conjunction with a traditional 529 plan, the product should be considered for clients interested in saving for a private school education."

The re-launch coincides with the transition of the the Tuition Plan Consortium’s operations and investments to OFI Private Investments Inc., a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

A recent survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on behalf of OppenheimerFunds and the Tuition Plan Consortium found that 54 percent of those with incomes between $150,000 and $200,000 and 50 percent of those earning above $200,000 were very likely to research locked-in rate product further. This compares to 33 percent of those earning between $75,000 and $100,000 and 40 percent with incomes between $100,000 and $150,000.

“The member institutions that own and operate Private College 529 Plan share a commitment to keeping a private college education accessible,'' Nancy Farmer, President of the Tuition Plan Consortium (TPC), commented. "In choosing our program manager, it was extremely important for us to find a firm that not only shares an appreciation for the hallmarks of our plan, but also has the expertise to help us reach even more families."

Farmer said the Private College 529 plan currently has $160 million in assets under management and is serving more than 6,000 families.

With Private College 529 Plan, families can purchase tuition credits at leading private institutions that may be redeemed at any participating school for up to 30 years.

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