MetLife Mature Market Institute reports 55% of grandparents contribute financially to their grandchildren’s education.

Of this group, 35% plan to provide a total of $50,000 or more over their lifetimes for the education of all their grandchildren, according to the MetLife Grandparents Poll, conducted by Zogby International.

Forty percent of grandparents say they make no such financial contribution; 5% were unsure or did not answer.

On a per-year basis, 22% expect to contribute up to $2,000, while 14% will provide between $2,000 and $5,000, and 11% will give between $5,000 and $20,000. Only 4% say they will contribute $20,000 or more annually.

The study found 22% contribute to a fund set up for their grandchildren’s college tuition, while others help pay costs for all schooling, from preschool through college.

“While they are providing financial help for their grandchildren, grandparents may also be helping their adult children and, in some cases, their parents, at a time when they themselves are retired or close to retirement,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

To plan adequately for the future, it will be increasingly important for grandparents to balance providing financial gifts and saving, so the money they set aside for education doesn’t jeopardize their own retirement security, she warns.

Among the poll’s other findings is that 3.5% of those over the age of 70 have at least one parent who is living. Of those between the ages of 55 and 69, 35.4% have a parent still living, while 84.1% of those between 35 and 54 have a living parent.