The ScholarShare College Savings Plan


TIAA-CREF took over the management of the California ScholarShare College Savings Plan from Fidelity in November 2011. The plan features two age-based options; one using actively managed mutual funds and one using index mutual funds. It also offers 17 static investment options. Among the static portfolio options is a socially responsible investment option, as well as one that protects principal.

5-Cap Rating


Savingforcollege.com's 5-Cap Ratings provides an evaluation and comparison of 529 plans, utilizing a formula that examines dozens of factors grouped into the following categories. (Scale 0 to 5; 5 is highest)

Performance Costs Features Reliability Resident Upgrade
4.48 4.54 3.37 4.90 0.00

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Program type:


How to enroll:

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Initial year of operation:


State agency(ies):

The ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB) chaired by the State Treasurer

Program manager:

TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)

Program distributor:

TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)

Manager contract term:

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State residency requirements:


Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens at least 18 years old, emancipated minors, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:



Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in California's 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $371,000.

Minimum contributions:

With lump-sum contributions and non-payroll automatic contributions, the minimum initial contribution is $25 per investment portfolio. The minimum subsequent contribution of $25 per investment portfolio has been waived. With the payroll deduction plan, the minimum contribution level per portfolio is $15 per payroll period.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

Choose between 2 age-based options, one invested in actively-managed mutual funds and the other invested in index mutual funds. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the beneficiary's age. The portfolios automatically shift to a more conservative investment allocation over time.

Static investment options:

Select among 12 multi-fund portfolios, 4 individual-fund portfolios (including the Social Choice Portfolio), and a principal-protection portfolio.

Underlying investments:

Actively-managed portfolios: T. Rowe Price, TIAA-CREF, DFA, PIMCO. Index-fund portfolios: TIAA-CREF. The Principal Plus Interest Option is provided through a funding agreement with TIAA-CREF Life.

Underlying fund allocations:

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Investment performance link:

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Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup

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Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:


Program management fees:

0.10% (includes 0.05% state fee); 0.05% for Passive and Single Fund Portfolios (no state fee); None for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Ranges from 0.06% to 0.13% annualized in the index fund portfolios, from 0.22% to 0.50% annualized in the actively managed fund portfolios, 0.08% to 0.18% in the passive portfolios, 0.18 in the Social Choice Portfolio, and none for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.11% - 0.60%. None for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.

Taxes and other Benefits

Program match on contributions:


State tax deduction or credit for contributions:


State tax recapture provisions:

There is no state tax deduction and therefore no recapture. However, a non-qualified withdrawal by a California taxpayer is subject to an additional 2.5% California penalty tax on the earnings portion, but only if subject to the the additional 10% federal additional penalty tax.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

Qualified distributions from California and non-California 529 plans are exempt.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

California follows federal tax-free treatment.

Does the sponsoring state exclude the value of an account for state financial aid purposes?


Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?


Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?


Statutory protection of an account from creditors:

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Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Beneficiary, eligible educational institution or account owner, as directed by the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Accepts requests to change account owner.

Documents, Access & Reporting

Does participant have online password-protected access to account?


Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?


Documents and other services accessible or downloadable on the program's public Web site:

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Web site:

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