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ScholarShare 529

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.

Our Ratingx

5 of 5

Fee Scorex

4.5 of 5


5 of 5

  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception1999
  • State agency
    The ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB) chaired by the State Treasurer
  • Tax deduction
    Tax deduction for single filers None
    Tax deduction for joint filers None
  • Program Manager
    TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)
  • Program distributor
    TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI)
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for CA 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.

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.'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.

4.84of 5

Each plan's performance score is developed directly from'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:


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 $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.

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.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:


Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup


Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:


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:


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 definition of qualified expenses

The state's definition of qualified education expenses currently includes expenses for attendance at an institution of higher education as defined by the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations addressing qualified state tuition programs. This does not include tuition for elementary or secondary education.

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?


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

Yes, the Upromise Rewards program can be linked to any 529 college savings plan. Upromise Rewards is free to join and offers members cash back for college.

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Statutory protection of an account from creditors:


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

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: