College costs are rising more than ever.
And yet, when it comes to socking away for future tuition, fewer than half of all parents are making the grade.
A new study by Sallie Mae reveals that just 48% of moms and dads are actively contributing to their kids' college funds.
This stat is a new low for Sallie Mae's annual survey, which saw a peak of 62% of parents saving in 2009. By 2013, the percentage of parents socking away for tuition had dipped to just 50%.
What's more, those college caches are looking leaner than ever.
The average amount saved is now just $10,040, a significant 25% decrease from the $13,408 socked away in 2014—and the lowest amount in five years.
Curiously, despite their lack of sackings, the study found that nine out of 10 parents do believe that building a college fund is an important investment in their child's future.
So what's stopping them from socking away?
Not surprisingly, 61% of parents cited lack of resources as the number one reason for their savings shortfall. But almost two-thirds also said they believe their kid will score enough in scholarships to cover college costs.
And even those parents who are saving are making a few key mistakes as well, Sallie Mae found. Most significantly, just 27% are taking advantage of tax-favored 529 plans—nearly half are simply socking away for college in general accounts.
Still, there was some good news on the savings front: the study also found that many parents are working on building better money habits. For example, 41% of moms and dads are now using an auto-deposit service to make the savings process routine. Plus, 31% set aside a certain amount from their paychecks for college—up from 26% in the past year.