NU Online News Service, July 10, 11:37 a.m. – U.S. parents are becoming a little more realistic about the returns they can expect on college savings, according to results of a Web-based survey conducted by Harris Interactive Inc., Rochester, N.Y.

The survey, sponsored by AEGON Institutional Markets, Louisville, Ky., found that 500 parents polled in March are still expecting an average return of about 19% on college savings, even though 61% are putting college cash in low-earning bank savings accounts.

But the average expected return has dropped from 24% in 2001, AEGON reports.

The survey revealed a major obstacle for life insurers and other financial services companies that want to reach out to parents who are not yet saving for their children’s college bills: 65% of the non-savers say they have no discretionary income.

AEGON Institutional, a unit of AEGON N.V., The Hague, Netherlands, has commissioned the college savings surveys to help promote its stable-value funds, which are fixed-income funds that lack federal bank deposit insurance but offer higher returns than bank certificates of deposit.