The Tuition Plan Consortium has relaunched its Independent 529 Plan as the Private College 529 Plan, to foster prepurchasing of tuition fees at present rates.

The consortium said Monday its Private College 529 Plan will offer investors a way to lock in tuition rates at more than 275 private colleges and universities, for up to 30 years.

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 Inc. "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 relaunch coincides with the transition of the consortium's operations and investments to OFI Private Investments Inc., a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds.

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

Nancy Farmer, the president of the Tuition Plan Consortium, said the Private College 529 Plan currently has $160 million of assets under management and serves more than 6,000 families.

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