College savings plan assets grew 4.3% to $227.3 billion as of Dec. 31 from a year earlier, according to a report from Morningstar.
Net flows produced all of the asset growth of the 84 U.S. 529 college plans from the previous year's total of $217.8 billion.
Direct-sold plans as of year-end had a 53.3% market share after growing faster than adviser-sold plans in 2015, up from 51.7% the previous year. Direct-sold plans' growth rate for the year was 7.5%, compared to adviser-sold plans' growth rate of 1%.
Increasing investor demand for the less-expensive direct-sold plans contributed to a decrease in fees to an asset-weighted average of 0.75% in 2015, from 0.79% in 2014. The typical direct-sold plan participant pays 20 basis points in addition to the cost of the underlying funds, compared to adviser-sold plan participants who typically pay 70 basis points.
Virginia's CollegeAmerica plan is still the largest 529 plan by a wide margin, with $51.8 billion in assets, a full 22.8% of the total market, as of Dec. 31. New York's 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan is second with $21.1 billion, or 9.3% of the market.
Rob Kozlowski is a reporter for sister publication Pensions & Investments.