TIAA-CREF, known for providing pensions to teachers and college professors, is struggling when it comes to helping people save for higher education, according to Dow Jones. In 2003, the financial service provider lost its 529 contract with New York State, and last year, it lost Missouri.

The organization is now counting on California. "They're approaching a crossroads," said Brian Boswell, an analyst at Boston Financial Research Corp. "If TIAA-CREF is going to remain relevant in the 529 business, they have to retain some of the larger contracts. New York and Missouri were a sizeable loss, and the loss of California would be difficult for them to overcome."

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