Proposal to Incorporate Savings Rates into Personal Credit Scores Wins Grand Prize in TIAA-CREF's "Raise the Rate" Competition

Women's Savings Club Wins "People's Choice Award"

New York, December 14, 2010

TIAA-CREF, the leading provider of financial services and retirement planning to the academic, medical and nonprofit fields, announced today that an idea to incorporate savings rates into credit scores has won the grand prize in the company’s “Raise the Rate” competition.

Jonathan Chan, a 2010 graduate of Northwestern University, has won $50,000 for his idea “Savings Credit Score,” which would factor a person’s savings habits into their credit score as a positive indicator of creditworthiness, on the theory that a better saver can make a better borrower. Chan based the idea in part on his own experience trying to improve his credit score when he was in college.

The winning entry is one of more than 1,000 entries submitted in response to TIAA-CREF’s call for innovative ideas to boost the U.S. personal savings rate to 10% over the next two years. As of October 2010, the U.S. personal savings rate was 5.7% (U.S Department of Commerce), below that of most industrialized nations. Entrants submitted proposals in both written and video form, via TIAA-CREF’s Facebook page.

“Saving for the long term is critical to securing one’s financial future, and as a nation, we aren’t where we should be,” said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., chief executive of TIAA-CREF and a “Raise the Rate” judge. “Our hope is that the creative and thoughtful ideas put forth by this competition will help to spur a national dialogue about the need for retirement savings and how each of us can take steps to achieve our financial futures.”

“Jonathan’s Savings Credit Score has the potential to truly make a difference,” added Mr. Ferguson. “Credit scores today are meant to reflect an individual’s payment patterns, but what they don’t account for is savings, which is effectively a payment to oneself – an investment in the future you. Including this data in credit scores would reward those who currently save and would encourage others to start.”

Raise the Rate competition entries were judged by Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC’s Closing Bell; Aaron Patzer, founder of; Dan Ariely, author, Duke University professor and economist and head of the eRationality research group at the MIT Media Lab; and TIAA-CREF CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.

Judges evaluated the effectiveness, clarity, innovativeness and feasibility of each of the finalist’s submissions.

A Savings Club for Women Wins People’s Choice Award

In addition to the grand prize, more than 12,000 votes were cast for a People’s Choice Award, which was based on online voting. Tara Tongco Rojas of Denver, Colorado wins $15,000 for creating the Women’s Savings Club, a community for women who commit to support, inspire and hold each other accountable for saving and managing money prudently.

The proposal recognizes that women are often their household’s primary financial decision makers. According to a national survey by TIAA-CREF, 58% of women report that they rely on themselves to make household financial decisions, but only 14% say they are very well informed about saving money.

Both the Savings Credit Score and the Women’s Savings Club underscore a need for consumers to take saving seriously. The TIAA-CREF survey shows that most Americans realize that saving is essential for financial security but that more than eight in ten people (82%) don’t know what it takes to save and that nearly forty percent (39%) of Americans are not saving for retirement at all.

The deadline for entries in the “Raise the Rate” online competition was September 20, 2010. The competition was open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States, 18 and older. Each of the nine runners-up wins $1,000.

TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $434 billion in combined assets under management (as of 9/30/10) and provides retirement services to the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

Media Contact
Chad Peterson, TIAA-CREF
704 988-6811

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC and Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., members FINRA, distribute securities products.

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