Free college money: California giving families up to $1,500 in CalKIDS cash for Scholarshare 529

·4 min read

SACRAMENTO – California on Wednesday kicked off a far-reaching initiative that will enable all families of low-income public school students – 3.4 million across the state – to access college savings accounts created in their children's names, with seed investments of between $500 and $1,500, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced.

The CalKIDS program will invest $1.9 billion into accounts for low-income school-age children in grades 1-12 and for newborn children born on or after July 1, 2022, with additional funds for homeless and foster children

“California is telling our students that we believe they’re college material – not only do we believe it, we’ll invest in them directly,” Newsom said in a statement. “With up to $1,500, we’re transforming lives, generating college-going mindsets, and creating generational wealth for millions of Californians.”

“I am proud and excited to finally see CalKIDS in action,” said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “My goal with this program was to bridge the gap between wealth inequality and the high cost of education. … Our shared vision ensures each child across the state will have an opportunity at higher education.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom launches CalKIDS at the State Controller's Office on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
Gov. Gavin Newsom launches CalKIDS at the State Controller's Office on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Find out if you’re receiving money by clicking here 

Up to $1,500 for 3.4 million school-age children:

  • $500 Automatic Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12.

  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as foster youth.

  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as homeless.

Up to $100 for newborn children:

  • $25 Automatic Deposit: Every eligible child born on or after July 1, 2022.

  • $25 Additional Deposit: Those who register on the program’s online portal.

  • $50 Additional Deposit: Those who link a new or existing ScholarShare 529 account to the CalKIDS account.

What parents need to know

Here's frequently asked questions about the program and how it works:

Who is eligible?

  • Children born in California on or after July 1, 2022, are eligible for the program.

  • CalKIDS is also available for newborns and their first state deposit consists of $25. Children in grades 1-12 receive a $500 deposit. You can check your child's eligibility here.

  • Enrollment is automatic and eligible children are identified by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Education.

What exactly can funds be used for?

The funds in these accounts can be used for tuition, books, supplies, some room and board costs and computer equipment.

Funds can be used at eligible community colleges, universities, vocational and professional schools in the U.S. and some abroad institutions as well.

Can parents contribute to a CalKIDS account?

If parents want to contribute to a child's account they have to do so via a ScholarShare 529 account.

Parents and family members are not required to contribute to a CalKIDS account, but are encouraged to do so to help save more money for future expenses.

What is a ScholarShare 529 account?

A ScholarShare 529 account is linked to a 529 college plan, which is an investment plan managed by the state that allows families to save for education.

To learn more and open an account, click here.

How do I make sure my child receives his/her money?

Parents must register their children on the program's online portal. No taxpayer information needs to be disclosed.

To register a newborn, youll need:

  • Local Registration Number (located on your child’s birth certificate) or unique CalKIDS code (included in the letter you received or will receive).

  • Your child’s date of birth.

  • Name of the county in which the child’s birth was registered.

To register eligible students, youll need:

  • Statewide Student Identifier (SSID), or the unique CalKIDS code (included in the letter you received or will receive). Please contact your school or school district to find your SSID.

  • Student’s date of birth.

  • Name of the county where the student was enrolled in public school as of Oct. 6, 2021.

Californians can begin accessing their accounts via the online portal now. In the coming months, CalKIDS will send notification letters to qualifying children and families with more information.

To learn more, visit the CalKIDS website and FAQ.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: CalKIDS: California giving millions to families for college seed money