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2007 News Releases

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2007

New “Wish I Knew” Study Shows Majority Of Parents Didn’t Save Enough For College

More than half (53.6%) say they’ll be paying loans for years
Nearly two-thirds (61.6%) now realize there are many ways to save

Boston– College teaches many things to students – but their parents are the ones who have learned that they should have saved more to pay for that education. According to a national “wish I knew” survey, conducted by Synovate for John Hancock Freedom 529 college savings plan, of more than 500 parents who have or have had a child in college in the past 10 years, 53.2 percent said they didn’t save enough for college and 55 percent said they wished they had started saving earlier.

In fact, more than half (57.2%) said they didn’t really save for their child’s education and 16.7 percent said they did not even start thinking about saving for college until their children were between 16 – 20 years old. So it’s not surprising that more than half (53.6%) also said they’d be paying off student loans for years.

To get an idea of what parents of young children might learn from parents who had already been through paying for a child’s college education, respondents were asked what they wish they had known and done earlier. Those surveyed said they wish they had known earlier: how expensive college really is (45.2%); how scholarships and awards are determined (40.8%) and how to start a 529 savings plan (35.5%). They also wish they had done certain things including: starting to save earlier (55%); opening a 529 savings plan (33%); and had their son/daughter save more (19.4%).

“Paying for college is indeed a daunting prospect, but saving for it shouldn’t be,” said Diana Scott, senior vice president and general manager of John Hancock Freedom 529. “We’re hoping this survey gets people thinking and acting about saving. There are many options to do so, including using 529 plans. As more people use 529 savings plans to save for college, we hope they may see that saving early and contributing often – even only in regular small amounts – can help them on their way to achieving their college savings goals.”

According to the survey, a variety of reasons kept the respondents from saving including: paying household expenses (58.1 %); putting it off (12.4 %); thinking they would receive more in loans or scholarships if they didn’t (6.2%); and being overwhelmed with how to save (4.5%).

In the absence of savings, their children’s education was paid through:
Student loans-- 64.0%
Scholarships (other than athletic)-- 63.1%
Child’s savings-- 31.3%
Loans (other than student loans – home equity, 401(k))-- 26.9%
Gifts from grandparents-- 25.3%

For most, the bottom line was that the importance of saving earlier and regularly can not be understated (74%) and there are many opportunities to help pay for college (61.6%).

About the Survey Methodology
John Hancock commissioned the survey through Synovate’s eNation service, based in Chicago, Ill. Three thousand individuals 18 years of age or older in the contiguous U.S. were queried through online surveys. The sample consisted of individuals selected from the online segment of Synovate’s Consumer Opinion Panel, and was balanced to be representative of the general population based upon region, gender, age, and household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

About John Hancock Freedom 529
John Hancock Freedom 529 is a national Section 529 college savings plan. John Hancock Freedom 529 is offered by the Education Trust of Alaska, managed by T. Rowe Price, and is distributed by 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 the NASD and is listed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). The plan offers a multi-managed approach, allowing investors to work with their financial consultants to pursue a strategy to maximize their investment opportunities, while managing risk. Expanding upon the inherent advantages of a typical 529 savings plan, the product offers investment choices from some of the nation’s top mutual fund managers.

About John Hancock and Manulife Financial
John Hancock is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$426 billion (US$370 billion) as at March 31, 2007.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘0945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.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 1-866-222-7498 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.

All rights reserved. Information included in this material is believed to be accurate as of the May 2007 printing date. 529 plans are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not bank or state guaranteed.

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Melissa Simon Berczuk
Phone: 617-663-4750