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Solid Index Findings: Despite the Costs, Americans Looking to Continued Education as a Way to Achieve a Solid Future

The recession has caused some to reevaluate education and retirement options

PRNewswire
ATLANTA
Aug 11, 2009

While celebrating the promising signs of an uptick in the economy, some Americans are reevaluating their higher education needs in the wake of the recession. SunTrust Banks, Inc. released today the results of the latest Solid Index, a semi-monthly series seeking to understand the ways finances influence consumers' daily lives, states of mind and emotions. The study revealed that 51 percent of parents and more than one-third of all adults are considering going back to school for more education.

Although 63 percent of respondents believe that post-high school education in the United States has practically become unaffordable, and 43 percent of Americans are stopping or cutting back on saving money for their kids' and/or their own education due to the current economy, the survey shows that pursuing education later in life is emerging as a popular mechanism for coping with uncertain financial futures.

The wave of adults returning to school is indicative of Americans wrestling with their retirement plans and future financial well-being. In fact, the Solid Index revealed that nearly half of Americans (45 percent) often find themselves confused about the best way to plan for their retirement - with more than half (56 percent) of young adults ages 18-34 expressing the most confusion.

"Given the uncertainty of this economy it's understandable that people are rethinking the likelihood of a comfortable retirement and secondary education," said Rilla Delorier, chief marketing officer for SunTrust Banks. "However, despite the challenges that the current environment presents, proper and proactive financial planning and budgeting can help Americans reach their attainable retirement and education goals. The persistent optimism felt by Americans reflects their resilience and eagerness to capture the American dream, luckily there are tools and insights, like Retirement GamePlan™, that can make that dream possible."

  Other results from the Solid Index include:
  --  42 percent of adults (ages 18-54) believe that retirement is something
      that only the wealthy can truly experience.
  --  Less than half of respondents (46 percent) have a written "plan of
      action" to achieve their retirement goals; men are significantly more
      likely than women (51 percent vs. 42 percent) to have a "plan of
      action"

  --  More than half (51 percent) of Americans are worried that they are not
      on track to retire in the way that they want to; middle-aged Americans
      are most concerned (66 percent of adults ages 35-44)

Despite some of the obvious concerns related to education and retirement, in terms of feeling solid, similar to the previous two waves of the Solid Index the study showed respondents continue to average a score of 6.1 out of 10 when asked how "solid" they feel about the state of their personal finances.

The Solid Index was conducted by StrategyOne as a five-question, single wave telephone omnibus survey among a census representative sample of 1,000 American adults aged 18 and older. The next wave of SunTrust's Solid Index will be released this October.

About SunTrust Banks, Inc.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of June 30, 2009, SunTrust had total assets of $176.7 billion and total deposits of $118.8 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com.

First Call Analyst: Putnam, Eugene
FCMN Contact:

SOURCE: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

CONTACT: Hugh Suhr of SunTrust, +1-404-827-6813, hugh.suhr@suntrust.com;
Yona Benstock of Edelman for SunTrust, +1-404-460-1491,
yona.benstock@edelman.com