(Dow Jones) Many parents set their own retirement security aside tofund their children's college education, and mothers are more pronethan fathers to steer a family down this risky path.

Financial advisers long have preached that parents need to make theirown savings for retirement a priority. Students, after all, havechoices in how expensive a school to attend and how much to borrow forit. Parents have no option but to save enough to live on once they'vestopped earning. "The biggest mistake is a willingness to send a child to college andnot to save for their own retirement," says Linda Leitz, a financialadviser in Colorado Springs, Colo. "That's a bad decision for thefamily."

Now, stung by job and stock-market losses, even many affluent familiesare having to rethink college choices and funding options. Women have aharder time doing that, according to a recent report byOppenheimerFunds, Inc.

According to the survey, moms are doing lots of the right things tohelp in their children's education: They are far more likely than dadsto volunteer at school, meet with teachers and help with homework andthe college-application process.

They are also more disposed to sacrifice their own futures. Only 56% ofwomen know how much they've saved for college compared to 65% of men.Additionally, only 67% of women have factored the cost of college intotheir overall savings goal compared to 75% of men.

Many women may not understand the full implications of that risk. Inhouseholds planning for college, men are more likely than women to betaking the primary responsibility for financial planning.

"The financial part is easy to ignore because it's hard to understand,"says Donna M. Winn, President and CEO of OFI Private Investments Inc.,a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds. "As women and mothers, we are moreconcerned with our kids' education than our retirement."

Winn believes many women need more financial education, a role financial advisers could be playing but aren't.

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