Last week I met with a team of experts representing ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan managed by TIAA-CREF, at the beautiful (and allegedly haunted) Culver Hotel. While the hotel’s history may be spooky, the ScholarShare program is anything but – you can actually open an account for your child for as little as $25 dollars! That’s an afternoon lunch ladies.
What I particularly like about this program is that ScholarShare has made the process simple with a website that holds your hand through the enrollment process – there’s even an automated savings planner. You can sign up via the ScholarShare website in about 5 minutes total. If you have any problems at all, simply call the service line at 1-800-544-5248, Monday through Friday, 8am – 7pm PST for one-on-one assistance.
How It Works:
1) The 529 plan is set up under your (the parent’s) name and you choose the beneficiary (your child’s name). If for some reason the child listed does not choose to use the plan or does not use it entirely, you can apply the funds to another child or use the fund for your own educational pursuits.
2) Contributions can be made at ANYTIME by ANYONE via the ScholarShare website. How cool is that?! Tired of Junior ending up with useless (albeit well-intended) birthday, Christmas and or Hanukah gifts? Ask family members (and even friends) to contribute to your child’s 529 Plan instead. All you have to do is forward them the link to your child’s account. An account statement can then be sent to your child from the donor which is a great way for kids to see the account grow and to feel like a part of the process.
As the parents of child actors we’re often concerned about projects (like sports commercials) making our kids ineligible for college sports scholarships, and rightly so. It’s important to note that the 529 Plan will not in anyway affect your child’s eligibility for academic or sports scholarships/grants.
Important points to remember:
- ScholarShare is California’s 529 college savings plan. Just as a 401(k) plan is to retirement savings, a 529 college savings plan is for college savings.
- 529 plans, named for the section of the IRS code under which they are created, give families an important tax advantage.
- The ScholarShare College Savings Plan is offered by the State of California. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. (TFI) is the Plan Manager.
- Morningstar, which rates mutual funds, named ScholarShare one of the nine best college savings plans in the nation. In 2013, Morningstar gave ScholarShare a silver rating. o ScholarShare eliminated its 0.05 percent state administrative fee, on all of its passively managed portfolios in 2013, making it among the lowest priced plan in the nation.
- ScholarShare accounts may be opened with as little as $25. ScholarShare offers 19 investment portfolios, giving account holders more options, depending on their savings goals and risk tolerance.
- With ScholarShare, anyone can open an account as a gift for a child or loved one. And, through ScholarShare’s eGifting option, family and friends can make a contribution to an existing account.
- ScholarShare offers a wide variety of investment options and online tools, such as mobile access.
TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund) began offering retirement services to teachers nearly 100 years ago. Today, they are a full-service financial services company who can help you reach your unique financial goals — for retirement, saving for college or providing protection for your loved ones. They provide products and services that they can tailor to your personal needs including Retirement Plans, After-Tax Annuities, IRAs, Education Savings, Mutual Funds, Brokerage Services, Banking and Life Insurance.
HMB participated in a paid program and dinner where representatives from TIAA-Cref and ScholarShare shared information regarding the 519 plan. This is also a plan HMB fully approves and supports.