ScholarShare College Savings Plan
TOM TORLAKSON, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
MICHAEL W. KIRST, President
June 4, 2013
Dear Elementary School Principals:
SCHOLARSHARE COLLEGE SAVINGS PLAN
The purpose of this letter is to provide you with important information about ScholarShare—a highly successful state program that is designed to help families save for their children’s future college expenses. We also are requesting that you share this information with all your students’ teachers, parents, guardians, or other responsible adults.
Why is it so critical for a family to begin to think about college financing at such an early time in a student’s life?
Financial preparation is an important part of college readiness. As college tuition continues to rise, families need to be aware of all the resources and tools available to help them save so that college remains an accessible goal. According to a recent survey conducted for ScholarShare, 84 percent of the parents surveyed consider a college education “very important.” However, the survey also found that many parents had not started saving and were not aware of “529” plans such as ScholarShare. It is especially critical to reach families with young children because they have the most to gain; the earlier families start saving, the longer they have to see their investments potentially grow.
What is ScholarShare, and how does ScholarShare help students’ families?
ScholarShare is a state-sponsored 529 college savings plan. It was established as a tax-advantaged way for families to save for higher education costs. As a partner in education, ScholarShare also offers resources and tools for parents and community members.
Through ScholarShare, any adult legal resident of the United States can open a ScholarShare account with as little as $25. Through regular contributions via payroll deduction, a ScholarShare account can potentially grow substantially over time. Earnings on ScholarShare account investments are federal and state tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses such as tuition, books, and certain room and board costs. Funds can be used at a variety of eligible schools nationwide, including many vocational and technical schools and many international schools. Parents, relatives, and family friends can open a ScholarShare account for a child by calling 1-800-544-5248 toll-free or by accessing ScholarShare online at http://www.scholarshare.com. Informational Webinars are available in English and Spanish on the site, and local, licensed field representatives are available for personal consultation and assistance. The ScholarShare Speaks Web site at http://www.scholarsharespeaks.com provides families with free public forums on topics related to child development, health, and parenting skills.
How does ScholarShare help educators and others in local communities?
In addition to assisting students’ families, ScholarShare also helps educators by:
- Offering free school supplies such as Friday folders, bookmarkers, and posters,
to California kindergarten through grade three classrooms each spring. This is a great way to promote college-going and
college savings at no cost to your school. More information is available on the
ScholarShare Start Shopping Web page at
http://www.CA529forSchools.com[Note: These supplies are no longer available].
- Sponsoring the Summer Reading Program, a partnership with local libraries that encourages school-aged children to read during the summer months. More information is available on the ScholarShare Reading Makes Cents Web page at https://www.scholarshare.com/news/reading.shtm.
ScholarShare also participates in outreach events held by local education-focused organizations throughout California; more information is available on the ScholarShare Community Events and Webinars Web page at https://www.scholarshare.com/community/index.shtml, by following ScholarShare on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scholarshare529, or by “liking” ScholarShare on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/scholarshare529.
We encourage you to share the information in this letter with all your students’ teachers, parents, guardians, and other responsible adults.
Thank you for your attention to this important topic.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education
MICHAEL W. KIRST
California State Board of Education