BOSTON, Nov. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Freedom 529 rose to the fifth-largest advisor-sold 529 college savings plan provider in terms of assets under management and market share for the third quarter of 2016, up from sixth place in the second quarter. John Hancock Freedom 529, managed by John Hancock Investments and T. Rowe Price under the direction of the Education Trust of Alaska, has $4.42 billion in assets under management and a market share of 3.9 percent as of September 30, 2016. Nearly 70 percent of high school graduates go on to attend college, which means millions of families need guidance on planning for a child's higher education. 529 plans can help address rising college costs and the associated increase in student debt. In fact, 7 in 10 college seniors graduated in 2015 owing nearly $30,000 on average—a heavy burden for someone just starting out in a career. "As a company, we strive to provide investors with products and education to help achieve important financial goals such as retirement and college savings, and we are deeply committed to the 529 market and helping families realize the dream of a college education for their loved ones," said John Hancock Investments President and CEO Andrew G. Arnott. "We've built up a team of 529 specialists to support financial professionals in the field and recently extended our outreach in the West by opening an office in Tempe, Arizona. College savings plans, such as John Hancock Freedom 529, have helped raise awareness around the importance of this kind of planning and offer a number of benefits designed to make saving easier." John Hancock Investments and T. Rowe Price have a long-standing partnership dating to 1996 on the mutual fund side, and have jointly managed the 529 plan since its inception in 2001. Together, they research and select proven portfolio management teams with specialized expertise for every fund offered. A key benefit of this asset allocation approach comes from combining multiple investment styles and multiple managers, resulting in a deeper level of diversification backed by the oversight of two leading investment organizations. This unique partnership offers a level of investment oversight that is hard to match with other 529 plans. About John Hancock InvestmentsJohn Hancock has helped individuals and institutions build and protect wealth since 1862. Today, we are one of America's strongest and most-recognized brands. As a manager of managers, John Hancock Investments searches the world to find proven portfolio teams with specialized expertise for every fund we offer, then we apply vigorous investment oversight to ensure they continue to meet our uncompromising standards and serve the best interests of our shareholders. Our unique approach to asset management has led to a diverse set of investments deeply rooted in investor needs, along with strong risk-adjusted returns across asset classes. About John Hancock Financial and ManulifeJohn Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada, and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents, and distribution partners. Assets under management and administration by Manulife and its subsidiaries were CAD$966 billion ( US$736 billion) as of September 30, 2016. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as MFC on the TSX, NYSE, and PSE, and under 945 on the SEHK. Manulife can be found at manulife.com. The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments, 401(k) plans, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com. John Hancock Freedom 529 is a college savings plan offered by the Education Trust of Alaska, managed by T. Rowe Price, and distributed by John Hancock Distributors LLC through other broker-dealers that have a selling agreement with John Hancock Distributors LLC. John Hancock Distributors LLC is a member of FINRA and is listed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). P.O. Box 17603 ¦ Baltimore, MD 21297-1603 ¦ 866-222-7498 ¦ johnhancockfreedom529.com If your state or your designated beneficiary's state offers a 529 plan, you may want to consider what, if any, potential state income-tax or other benefits it offers before investing. State tax or other benefits should be one of many factors to be considered prior to making an investment decision. Please consult with your financial, tax, or other advisor about how these state benefits, if any, may apply to your specific circumstances. You may also contact your state 529 plan or any other 529 college savings plan to learn more about their features. Please contact your financial consultant or call 866-222-7498 to obtain a Plan Disclosure Document or prospectus for any of the underlying funds. The Plan Disclosure Document contains complete details on investment objectives, risks, fees, charges, and expenses, as well as more information about municipal fund securities and the underlying investment companies that should be considered before investing. Please read the Plan Disclosure Document carefully prior to investing. 529 PLANS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED, MAY LOSE VALUE, AND ARE NOT BANK OR STATE GUARANTEED.