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...isn't the whole idea of an a 529 Plan run counter to everything the Motley Fool espouses? I should let an institution invest for me, give a substandard (below market return) and then pay them for it?

Depends on the 529 -- some give you the option of investing in an index fund.

$58k of assets enough to be denied financial aid/student loans?

Most financial aid is need-based. The less need, the less grants and loans will be awarded -- and the more flexibility the student has in choosing where to go to school. The student still could get scholarships based on merit, athletic ability, etc. The more you & the student save, in a variety of vehicles, the better.

I've already looked at, but that whole Web-site seems to be biased towards 529 plans. Am I the only one who thinks this is out of whack?

It's "The Internet Guide to 529 Plans." It isn't "out of whack" -- just focused on one way to save for college. Other sites have information about other ways of saving for college. Try for a variety of articles & resources.

At this point, the only benefits I see to a 529 plan are the following:

1) I'm not limited to the $2k/year limit
2) Somehow, 529 plans aren't considered assets of the student going to school and this doesn't count against them for financial aid.

Sorta -- The 529 will be considered in the needs assessment, but it won't have as much impact as savings in the student's name.
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