Utah is changing—is your firm staying current?

As Utahns, we know the state is changing quickly. But we also know that your clients have many of the same questions and concerns that their parents did 30 years ago. If they work hard and save, can they have a solid financial foundation to raise their children and grandchildren? Some may have some new concerns, too. Should they downsize considering the cost of Utah real estate? What is the ROI on higher education today and will our savings make a difference against the future costs of college?

We are happy to help you answer that last question, but with a local perspective.

We know Utah families are unique. Our state has the most children per household, at 2.32 per family.1 That makes Utah the youngest state, thanks to those many kids. Utah County—home to BYU and UVU—has a median age of 25.9, closely followed by Cache County—home to USU—with a median age of 26.3.2

We also know your clients are proud of their fiscal responsibility and emphasis on financial independence—even our state government ranks No. 1 in economic and fiscal stability.3 Add in the storm cloud around student loans, and your clients may be wondering if they should set aside funds for their children’s or grandchildren’s higher education.

But even higher education is different in Utah! Nationally, the average college in-state tuition at a public, four-year university for the 2021-2022 school year was $10,740, while Utah’s average was $7,3874—and that is before scholarships, grants, aid packages, etc.

Additionally, between 2018-19 and 2023-24, average in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions fell in 45 states, with Utah schools dropping just under 10%.5 We are also one of only six states that increased four-year undergraduate enrollment attendance at public institutions.6

As we have all seen over the past four years, no one can predict financial markets (or the Utah Jazz playoff odds), but we do know that higher education pays off. “The economic data make clear that Utahns who secure higher education degrees earn more income, secure greater employment opportunities, achieve greater upward mobility, participate less in public assistance programs, and garner a variety of other positive individual and societal benefits,” according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute’s latest Policy Brief on higher education.7

With Utah’s strong job market, younger people may be tempted to skip higher education, but wages can plateau, or the job market can contract while higher competition crowds out those without degrees, as occurred during the 2008 Great Recession.

Even if your clients can’t save for the full tuition, despite Utah’s lower average costs4, small investments have proven to encourage achieving higher degrees. “A low- and moderate-income child who has school savings of $1 to $499 … is about four times more likely to graduate from college.”8

No matter what the future holds, Utahns love investing in their children, and saving for higher education is a great place to start. Advisors who prioritize college savings conversations with their client can use the concept of a 529 to lead the discussion. It’s a great way to connect with younger families, introduce the Utah state tax benefit, and use the my529 LPOA platform to view and manage those client accounts.

For more ideas on how to talk about 529 plans with your clients, please feel free to schedule time with the my529 Professional Services team by clicking on the calendar link below. We’d also be happy to meet your team in-office and brainstorm ideas that could directly help your firm.


  1. https://www.businessinsider.com/the-average-number-of-kids-per-family-in-every-state-2019-2
  2. https://d36oiwf74r1rap.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/UI2024.pdf, p 73.
  3. https://senate.utah.gov/utah-ranks-no-1-best-state-overall-by-u-s-news-and-world-report/
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/average-college-tuition
  5. https://research.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/Trends%20Report%202023%20Updated.pdf, p. 14.
  6. https://research.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/Trends%20Report%202023%20Updated.pdf, p. 31.
  7. https://d36oiwf74r1rap.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/HigherEd-PB-Feb2024.pdf
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260780776_Assets_and_Education_Initiative_2013_Building_Expectations_Delivering_Results_Asset-Based_Financial_Aid_and_the_Future_of_Higher_Education_Biannual_Report_on_the_Assets_and_Education_Field_July, p.67.
With the Wasatch Mountains in the background, clouds roll past downtown skyscrapers of Salt Lake City in Utah.
From the FAN — Spring 2024