A new survey finds many GenXers are beginning to despair that they can afford to send their kids to college.[@@]

Among members of Generation X (aged 26 to 40), 38% now believe that educational costs will be out of their reach by the time their children are ready to go to college, up from 29% in 2004.

“With the average cost of attending a four-year private institution rising to nearly $120,000, with no signs of abating, GenXers are taking a serious look at the financial burden this will create for them and their families,” says Beverly Moore, managing director of wealth management at MainStay Investments Inc., Parsippany, N.J., which sponsored the survey.

Moore says she expects to see growing interest in 529 college savings plans as a result of this concern.

Among baby boomers (aged 41-59), there appears to be far less worry about their kids’ education. The same survey found 19% of boomers responsible for one or more children plan to make no contribution at all to their children’s college fund, and an additional 15% plan to contribute less than $10,000.

Instead, boomers and older individuals are much more interested in sustaining their lifestyle and living well in retirement than GenXers are, according to MainStay.