Vanguard STAR Fund
The Vanguard STAR Fund (VGSTX) is a balanced fund composed of 60% stocks, 40% bonds. The fund, along with the series of Vanguard target retirement funds, has a $1,000 minimum investment, lower than the typical $3,000 minimum investment threshold for most Vanguard funds. Thus, the fund is sometimes suggested in the Bogleheads forum as a suitable mutual fund for investors who are just getting started and cannot meet a $3,000 minimum.
The STAR fund is a fund-of-funds. The STAR fund invests in eleven Vanguard mutual funds [note 1], all of which are actively managed. It has an acquired fund fee and expenses (AFFE) expense ratio of 0.34%, typical of Vanguard's expense ratios for its active funds and low by general industry standards, but high compared to index funds. As with other funds-of-funds, no lower cost admiral shares are offered nor is it available as an ETF.
As a 60/40 balanced fund, the fund might be compared to Vanguard Balanced Index Fund, Vanguard Wellington Fund, Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth Fund, and whichever Vanguard target retirement fund has close to a similar allocation--as of 2011, this would be the Target Retirement 2015 fund.
The fund was created in 1985. In 1987 the New York Times noted: 
In the past two years, a number of firms have revived the 1960's fund-of-funds approach, in which a money manager invests in a variety of mutual funds, rather than directly in stocks or bonds... The Vanguard Group was one of the first organizations to revive the fund-of-funds concept when it offered its STAR Fund, which invests in shares of Vanguard's other mutual funds.
According to posters in the Bogleheads forum, STAR is an acronym for "Special Tax-Advantaged Retirement," although it was never limited to retirement accounts; it is one of a group of seven Vanguard funds each of which is formally a "portfolio" within a single "trust," an arcane fact of no practical importance. [note 2]
- The eleven funds include:
- Vanguard Windsor II Fund Investor Shares (14.1%)
- Vanguard GNMA Fund Investor Shares (12.5%)
- Vanguard Short-Term Investment-Grade Fund Investor Shares (12.5%)
- Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Fund Investor Shares (12.4%)
- Vanguard International Value Fund (9.4%)
- Vanguard International Growth Fund Investor Shares (9.3%)
- Vanguard Windsor Fund Investor Shares (7.8%)
- Vanguard U.S. Growth Fund Investor Shares (6.1%)
- Vanguard PRIMECAP Fund Investor Shares (6.1%)
- Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund Investor Shares (6.0%)
- Vanguard Explorer Fund Investor Shares (3.8%)
- Total — 100.0%
- From the annual SEC required NSAR filing:
FORMER CONFORMED NAME: VANGUARD SPECIAL TAX ADVANTAGED RETIREMENT FUNDDATE OF NAME CHANGE: 19850318
- Walice, Anise C. (1987) "Too Many Choices? One Fund Buys All." New York Times 10 May 1987