California Is Giving Millions of Kids Up to $1,500 for College

CalKIDS is the nation’s largest college savings program. Here’s how it works.

Published August 25, 2022

Edited by Alex Pasquariello
California Is Giving Millions of Kids Up to $1,500 for College
Photo by Joseph Sohm; Visions of America / Corbis / Getty Images

  • The new CalKids program encourages parents and students to save for higher education.
  • CalKIDS will invest $1.9 billion into accounts for newborns and low-income public school students.
  • Low-income public school students can receive up to $1,500 and newborns up to $100 in their CalKIDS accounts.

Starting this month, more than 3 million California public school students can receive money from the state for a college savings account.

The California Kids Investment and Development Savings (CalKIDS) Program will invest $1.9 billion into college savings accounts for low-income public school students and newborn children born on or after July 1, 2022. Funds in these accounts can be used for tuition at eligible institutions of higher education, books, supplies, room and board, and computer equipment.

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

Here’s what Californians need to know about CalKIDS.

Who’s Eligible for CalKIDS?

All children born in California on or after July 1, 2022 and eligible low-income public school students.

Children do not need to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible.

Likewise, parents and guardians of recipients are not obligated to donate any funds or take additional action to participate in the program.

California built a digital eligibility tool public school students and their parents or guardians can use to figure out if they have a CalKIDS account. It requires the student’s Statewide Student Identifier, which is listed on a student’s report card or available through their school.

How Much Money Does CalKIDS Give Children?

Children born in California on or after July 1, 2022 can receive up to $100 within months of their birth.

All newborns born on or after July 1, 2022 will receive an automatic deposit of $25 into their CalKIDS account. They’ll receive an additional $25 once their parents or guardians complete the program’s online registration.

An additional $50 deposit will be made into a newborn’s account if their parents or guardians link or create a new ScholarShare 529 account to a CalKIDS account.

Low-income public school students will receive a $500 automatic deposit into their CalKids account. Eligible students identified as foster youth receive an additional $500. Eligible students identified as homeless receive an additional $500.

How Do Californians Claim A CalKIDS Account?

To claim a CalKIDS account, it must first be registered. The program does not require a social security or taxpayer identification number to register or access funds.

To register a CalKIDS account for a newborn, parents or guardians will need:

  • Child’s date of birth
  • Name of the county in which the child’s birth was registered
  • Local Registration Number (located on the child’s birth certificate) or unique CalKIDS code included in the letter sent out to eligible families

To register a CalKIDS account for an eligible low-income public school student, the student or their parents or guardians will need:

  • Student’s date of birth
  • Statewide Student Identifier (SSID), or the unique CalKIDS code
  • Name of the county where the student was enrolled in public school as of the Fall Academic Census Day 2021 (October 6, 2021)

What Can The Money Be Spent On?

Money in a CalKIDS account can not be spent until a student turns 17 and is enrolling at a qualifying institution of higher education.

The money won’t be taxed as income as long as it’s used for tuition, room and board, books, supplies, or computers at a qualifying higher education institution, which include four-year college, community college, or trade school.

Here’s Where Californians Can Learn More About CalKIDS

The CalKIDS website provides basic information as well as the links needed to register an account, open a 529 account, and connect an existing 529 account to a CalKids account.

Californians can also learn more about the program through three live webinars being held on Sept. 8, Sept. 22, and Oct. 6. All webinars will take place 11 a.m.- 12 p.m. PST and will require prior registration to gain access.