Message from the Executive Director
1 .2 With close to 9 million students in total, no other state plays as large a role educating American citizens as the Golden State..
It’s an enormous responsibility—one California takes seriously— which is why the good people at ScholarShare 529 work hard to provide every opportunity for your kids to afford the benefits of a California education.
Our investment in education is growing. As of September 2022, there were 385,248 ScholarShare 529 accounts with a total value of $10.9 billion assets under management. That’s a 4.8% increase in the number accounts over the previous year.
Our colleges and universities create greater opportunities for the next generation of Californians. That’s why I spotlight the California State University System in this year’s Report on Higher Education.
Thanks for supporting us in our efforts to make higher education accessible to everyone.
California’s Higher Education System
California’s higher education system has three public segments: California Community Colleges (CCC), the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU). For 2021–22, there were 737 active colleges and universities—192 public and 545 private—with 2,686,441 undergrad and grad students. Nine colleges offer all programs online, 53 have ROTC and 193 offer study abroad programs. 5
CSU is the largest four-year public university system in America, offering bachelor’s degrees in various majors as well as doctoral and master’s programs. 6
7 Each college offers various educational programs that reflect the character of the region. CCC offers students opportunities for personal growth and professional training, from an associate degree to university transfer. Most CCC also offer distance education by radio and video, off-campus classes in facilities and study abroad.
The UC system has ten undergrad campuses offering bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D. and professional degrees. 8
The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) comprises 80 nonprofit universities, making up the Independent California Colleges and Universities (ICCU) sector. 9
Five examples of how the nation’s largest university system—the California State University system—is improving education.
Higher education for all
CSU educates the most ethnically, economically and academically diverse student body in the nation—half the students are underrepresented minorities. 10
Bridging the digital divide
To address tech equity gaps along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines, CSU launched the CSU Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success (CSUCCESS) program. The initiative provides a Wi-Fi connectivity package with its free technology distribution program to enhance student achievement and create equitable opportunities. 11
An engine of social mobility
A CSU degree addresses declining levels of economic mobility. CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) once again placed CSU as a top performer in economic mobility, highlighting the transformative power of the California educational system to propel alumni and their families into higher economic strata. 12
CA Undergraduate Resident Tuition Costs
These tuition costs represent the published tuition cost of attending one year of college as a full-time student at each respective institution. Total costs vary depending on expenses and campus you attend.
Next-generation problem solvers
For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided 400,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—the opportunity to exchange ideas and find solutions to challenges facing our world. 17 All that to say, CSU students are educated to tackle the challenges of tomorrow—climate change, aid for those with disabilities, fire prevention, ocean conservation, earthquakes, etc..
While each of the 23 CSU campuses is one-of-a-kind, they share a common focus on student support and success, affordability and multiculturalism. Here’s a sample of the diverse offerings.
CSU, Long Beach
For students interested in the performing arts, Long Beach offers theatre arts and dance. High school seniors interested in the theatre program don’t need to audition, but they are required to audition as college sophomores to gain entrance to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in acting. CSULB’s central location provides performance opportunities on- and off-campus. The campus also focuses on sustainability, striving for zero waste, and following strategic energy and water action plans.
Business and Economics
The College of Business and Economics at Fullerton is an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited institution in accounting and business. The campus’s central location in Orange County is another draw for students interested in business. Cal State Fullerton students can study at Mihaylo Hall, which was built by implementing environmental sustainability practices and cutting-edge technology. The school also offers programs focusing on the success of women in business through mentorships (i.e., The Women’s Leadership Program, The Titan Women Collective).
Film and Television
For students interested in film and television, the CSUN Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication is a great fit. The Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) offers internship opportunities and resources for students excited to engage with the local entertainment community. 18
Cal Poly Humboldt
Built alongside the redwoods of Northern California and five miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Cal Poly Humboldt campus is set in a unique location for students interested in studying the environment. Many of Humboldt’s strongest programs are housed within the school’s College of Natural Resources and Sciences.
Viticulture and Enology
For students interested in the world of winemaking, Cal State Fresno has a robust viticulture and enology program. Students can connect with alumni by becoming members of the Viticulture Club or the Enology Society. Additionally, Sonoma State has a Wine Business Institute housed under the umbrella of their School of Business and Economics.
Cal Poly Pomona
The College of Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona is one of the nation’s top-ranking engineering programs, graduating over 1,200 engineers every year. Pomona also has a Pride Center that provides a safe space for LGBTQIA students. Part of its mission is to serve the campus community by promoting empowerment and social justice on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Tailored for Autism Spectrum Disorder
CSU, East Bay
CSU East Bay has an application-based College Link Program (CLP) that provides tailored support and resources for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of the CLP is to increase student independence and success by providing support for the development of skills in academics, social life, career preparation and independent living.
CSU Monterey Bay
CSU, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) location by the sea goes together with its stellar Marine Science department. The department offers opportunities like Marine Science Research and the Research Diving Program. CSUMB is the only CSU campus adjacent to a living ocean laboratory, making it rich with relevant resources for up-and-coming marine scientists.
CA education system honored
CSU eliminates standardized tests
CSU Trustees agreed on March 23, 2022 to drop SAT and ACT standardized tests in its admissions process, solidifying the state’s national role in eliminating the exams because of equity concerns. 21
FAFSA completion rates up
The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) released its report on FAFSA completions for the 2022 academic year. A 4.6% increase in applications for federal student aid shows that a slow recovery from COVID-19 is occurring in higher education. 22
Students earn $10K for service
Gov. Newsom announced on January 18, 2022 that 45 colleges and universities will be part of a new public service program that subsidizes tuition for students who do community service. In exchange for 450 hours of service, the California College Corps gives students $10,000 toward their education. They may also earn academic credit for their work. 23
50 years of equity
26 In the pre-Title IX era, 15% of college athletes were women. Today, 44% of the opportunities to play sports go to women. 27
529 tuition payments go digital
28 Families saving in a 529 plan on the Ascensus platform can leverage Flywire to disburse funds to pay tuition-related expenses directly to the school from their 529 account.
California’s Collegebound Kids
California is proud to announce the launch of the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program (CalKIDS).
CalKIDS, the nation’s largest Children’s Savings Account program, launched in 2022 and jumpstarted college savings for over 3.5 million children statewide. 29
CalKIDS helps children in California get access to higher education, especially those from underserved communities. Enrollment in CalKIDS is automatic. Eligible beneficiaries are identified by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Education. No action or financial commitment is required of families to participate.
Eligible children include:
Children born in California on or after July 1, 2022, receive up to $100 in college savings.
- $25 seed deposit in a CalKIDS account
- $25 deposit when the account owner registers on the CalKIDS online portal
- $50 when the account owner links a new or existing ScholarShare 529 account to their CalKIDS account
Low-income public-school students, 1st through 12th grade, receive up to $1,500 in college savings.
- $500 for eligible low-income public-school students
- $500 for eligible students identified as foster youth
- $500 for eligible students identified as homeless
The investments provided in CalKIDS accounts can be a steppingstone to build new savings behavior for families and serve as a tangible demonstration of California’s commitment to supporting children in reaching the goal of higher education.
Each CalKIDS account is seeded with a minimum deposit held in the ScholarShare 529 college savings plan or another investment mechanism in which money can potentially grow and eventually be used for a range of qualified expenses.
For more information, visit CalKIDS.org.
Your State Representative
Your State Representative ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan provides account owners with contact information for their state legislators annually, as required by law. If you’d like to contact your state representative about your ScholarShare 529 account, visit findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov to find the appropriate address and phone number, or contact our office at 916-651-6380.
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