General InformationDownload PDF Report
California's ScholarShare 529 is available to residents of any state. It offers a variety of investment options from TIAA-CREF, T. Rowe Price, and others.
- Program typeSavings
- State agencyThe ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB) chaired by the State Treasurer
- Program ManagerTIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)
- Program distributorTIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)
- Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO
Ratings & Rankings
Our overall rating for non-residents
This is a program that offers outstanding flexibility, attractive investments, and additional economic benefits (such as generous state tax incentives) that for some people, at least, will provide a substantial boost to their savings. There are few, if any, weaknesses noted in the program.
Each plan's performance score is developed directly from Savingforcollege.com's Quarterly 529 Performance Rankings. A 529 savings plan must have at least one year of performance history before they will be assigned a 5-cap rating. For those plans that are not part of our quarterly performance rankings, such as plans offering a single set of bank-based investment options, we assign a performance score by evaluating the returns currently available on similar types of investments outside of 529 plans.
State residency requirements:None
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:None
Maximum contributions:Accepts contributions until all account balances in California's 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $475,000.
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.
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.View more age-based investment options
Static investment options:Select among 12 multi-fund portfolios, 4 individual-fund portfolios (including the Social Choice Portfolio), and a principal-protection portfolio.View more static investment options
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.View a full list of this plan's investment options
Underlying fund allocations:UNLOCK PRO
Portfolio Fees & Performance LookupUNLOCK PRO
Fees & Expenses
Enrollment or application fee:None.
Account maintenance fee:None.
Program management fees:0.08% (includes 0.05% state fee); 0.03% for Passive and Single Fund Portfolios (no state fee); None for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.
Expenses of the underlying investments:Ranges from 0.05% to 0.12% annualized in the index fund portfolios, from 0.23% to 0.49% annualized in the actively managed fund portfolios, 0.08% to 0.17% in the passive portfolios, 0.18 in the Social Choice Portfolio, and none for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.
Total asset-based expense ratio:0.08% - 0.57%. None for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio.
Taxes and other Benefits
- Tax deduction for single filersNone
- Tax deduction for joint filersNone
California doesn't offer tax deductions
Program match on contributions:None.
State tax deduction or credit for contributions:None
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?No,, but California excludes 529 plans when considering eligibility for Medi-Cal.
Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?No
Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?No
Statutory protection of an account from creditors:UNLOCK PRO
Want to Boost your Savings?
You could be saving more with gifts from family and friends. CollegeBacker makes it easy to start a 529 plan, and then invite others to contribute for birthday parties, holidays, or even on a monthly basis.Start saving with family and friends
Alternative 529 Plans
The Maine NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series is available through Merrill Edge. The plan utilizes BlackRock (including iShares) funds in its age-based and static options. In addition, the Principal Plus Portfolio and the NextGen Savings Portfolio are available.
Why we like this plan
- Strong long-term performance
- Low fees
- Matching Grants for qualifying accounts