Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

U.S. parents have set aside just $10,040 in college savings for their kids this year. That's the lowest amount since Sallie Mae and Ipsos began reporting on trends in college savings in 2009, according to the organizations' annual How America Saves for College report.

It's a 25% drop-off from 2014. Cost of living increases and unexpected expenses were the most commonly cited reasons for saving less.

Sallie Mae/Ipsos

The biggest year-over-year drop-off among those planning to save was seen among middle-income families.

Fusion, data via Sallie Mae/Ipsos

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But financial distress was felt even by high-income families ($100,000 or more), 45% of whom reported not having enough money as a major obstacle to saving for college.

The overall set-aside savings level stayed constant at about 10%.

Overall, just 48% of parents say they're saving up for their kids to attend school, compared with 51% last year and 60% in 2010.

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The average cost of four-year out-of-state public college tuition was $22,958 last year, according to the College Board. Nine in 10 parents expect their child will eventually attend college.

The report emphasizes the effectiveness of college saving financial vehicles like 529 savings accounts, which offer higher yields than typical savings accounts. Just 39% of respondents had even heard of such plans.

This study reports the results of online interviews that Ipsos conducted in January 2015 of 1,988 American parents with at least one child younger than age 18.

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Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.