Parents are saving for their children's college educations earlier, but most will likely cover only a small portion of the costs, according to the second annual College Savings Indicator conducted for Fidelity Investments.

The survey, based on 3,000 parents with children 18 years of age or younger who anticipate attending college, shows that 60% of parents have started saving for college. The median age for this is 3 years old, compared to a median age of 4 years old in the first survey.

However, parents are on track to cover only 21% of the costs of college education, estimated to be $120,000 for today's high school seniors. And a vast majority (74%) have not talked to an advisor about college savings.

Nearly one-third of surveyed parents utilize a 529 plan or a similar plan with tax advantages, and those parents are on track to cover some 40% of the costs. That's nearly double the amount that parents as a whole will be able to cover. At the same time, parents working with a financial advisor are on track to cover only 31% of their child's college costs.

An increasing number of parents say they will partially rely on their child obtaining student loans, but 42% say they have little knowledge about how to research or apply for loans.

"This reflects a tremendous opportunity and need for advisors to be proactive about incorporating college planning into their overall financial planning discussion," says Jeff Troutman, vice president of college planning for Fidelity Investments Institutional Services, which offers several 529 college savings plans.