Why it’s important to understand 403(b) fees
To get the true story about fees, look at the total, all-in plan price. As the chart shows, our competitors can charge twice as many individual fees.
When you compare the total amount paid for all plan service and investment fees, Vanguard 403(b) Services ranks among the lowest-cost 403(b) plans available.
Transparent recordkeeping fees
Our fees are clear and straightforward. While some 403(b) providers may charge many types of fees—fees you may not even realize you’re being charged—Vanguard has just 2:
Plan participants will never find a hidden fee or charge. That means no front-or back-end loads, commissions, surrender charges, or asset-based administration “wrap“ fees. And we don’t charge you for taking a distribution from your account, as many of our competitors do.*
Plan sponsors have 2 options for paying the recordkeeping fee: as a direct plan sponsor expense, or through automated deductions from participant accounts. If applicable, a plan using a third-party administrator (TPA) may charge a TPA fee, which the plan sponsor can deduct from participant accounts.**
Compare Vanguard fees with the competition***
Fees others may charge:
- Flat recordkeeping
- Expense ratio
- Asset-based administration
- Front/back-end loads
- Surrender charges
The only fees Vanguard charges:
- Flat recordkeeping
- Expense ratio
Low fund costs
The Vanguard average expense ratio for mutual funds is 83% less than the industry average.††
For investors, that can mean more potential returns because every penny you save in fund costs is a penny that stays in your account, where it can grow tax-deferred.
Because costs and fees can cut directly into investment returns, it’s important to know what your funds cost—whether you’re an employer choosing a plan or an employee who may have a choice of providers.
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*A participant who takes a loan from a 403(b) account (if the plan permits) will incur a one time $50 loan initiation fee and a $25 per-year loan maintenance fee.
**Plans using a third-party administrator (TPA) may authorize Vanguard to deduct the TPA’s fees from participant accounts. These fees or charges will be listed as a separate line-item fee and be clearly identified on participant statements.
***Actual participant and/or plan fees may vary depending on the investments and services used. Fees not reflected in the table may include certain participant transaction fees, such as loans, and fees for other services if applicable.
†Some companies charge fees for account setup closeout, or transfer; paper statements; wires; copies of confirmations or checks; or to wire money from a participant’s account.
††Vanguard average mutual fund expense ratio: 0.09%. Industry average mutual fund expense ratio: 0.54%. All averages are asset-weighted. Industry average excludes Vanguard. Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc., as of December 31, 2022.
For more information about Vanguard funds or ETFs, visit vanguard.com to obtain a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information about a fund are contained in the prospectus; read and consider it carefully before investing.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
Investments in Target Retirement Funds are subject to the risks of their underlying funds. The year in the fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. The fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in a Target Retirement Fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.