T. Rowe Price has included a college investment calculator on its Web site to help families figure out how much they will need to invest in a 529 plan. The calculator examines the probability of various portfolios in 500 scenarios.

The College Board estimates that the current average annual cost at a private college is $24,946. Assuming an annual 5% inflation rate, the average cost for four years at a private college will reach $261,300 by 2020, according to The College Board.

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