Saving For College Early is Essential to Planning for Success

Saving for college is more important than ever. With the cost of college tuition on the rise, ScholarShare  and California GEAR UP are working together closely to provide families, parents, and young adults with resources and tools to help them prepare for higher education.

ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, has long been a partner of the California GEAR UP Education Trust Awards. GEAR UP has awarded 5,370 middle school students with Education Trust Awards, opened in individual ScholarShare accounts established in the student’s name in the amount of $2,000 each, for a total of $10,740,000. The awards are available to students within one year of high school graduation and upon college enrollment.

ScholarShare is a way for parents to share in their child’s road to a higher education.  There are a number of benefits offered by ScholarShare.

  • Any adult or U.S. legal resident with a social security number or federal taxpayer identification number can open an account.
  • Grandparents, friends, aunts, and uncles can open an account or contribute to an existing one.
  • Earnings are tax free when withdrawals are used for qualified higher education expenses.
  • Accounts can be opened with as little as $25.
  • Funds can be used at eligible schools nationwide and many international schools.
  • Funds can be used for a variety of qualified higher education expenses.
  • A variety of low cost investment options are offered.

College remains important to California parents.  According to the California College Saving Survey in September 2012, 84 percent of parents strongly believe in the importance of a higher education as an objective in its own right, and as a way to open doors to other dreams and aspirations.  Even during challenging economic times, parents are still putting a priority on saving for a higher education while making sacrifices in other areas. Many California parents are willing to cut back on family vacations or eating out, even more striking delaying their retirement.

While California parents consider a college education crucial, most are worried about being able to afford it.  Here are some helpful tips on how families can save for college.

  • Be supportive:  Children will aspire and be prepared for college if they are surrounded by adults who foster a positive educational environment not only in school but at home.
  • Set realistic goals:  You may not be able to save enough for all four years of tuition, room and board, and other expenses, but you could save enough to help put your child’s education within reach.
  • Reach out to friends and family:  Instead of birthday and holiday gifts for your child, let your friends and family make contributions. Of those that know about 529 plans, few know that people other than the child’s parents can contribute, such as grandparent’s aunts, uncles, and even the students themselves.
  • Let your child know you’re saving for their higher education:  You may be surprised at how much pride and appreciation they demonstrate, knowing that college is in their future.
  • Start saving as earlier as you can:  The key to saving for college is to start early and save regularly. By saving a set amount regularly, your money can grow as your child does. And before you know it, you’ll be just as ready for college as they are.

ScholarShare offers a way for families to save for college and to help make college become affordable. When it comes to college savings, it is never too late for families to share in their child’s future.

For more information about ScholarShare, visit, call toll-free 1-800-544-5248, or visit the ScholarShare Facebook [link to] and Twitter [link to] pages.


Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the ScholarShare College Savings Plan. Visit, or call the Plan, for a Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information.  Read it carefully. Before investing in a 529 plan, consider whether the state where you or your Beneficiary resides has a 529 plan that offers favorable state tax benefits that are available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan. The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice, based on their own particular circumstances, from an independent tax advisor. Investments in the Plan are neither insured nor guaranteed except for TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company’s guarantee to the ScholarShare College Savings Plan under the Funding Agreement for the Principal Plus Interest Portfolio, and there is a risk of investment loss. Account values will fluctuate based on a number of factors, including general market conditions. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., Program Manager

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Sean Brennan is Communications Director for California GEAR UP. CA GEAR UP is based out of Sacramento and Oakland California. Please visit our website for more information.

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