California launches CalKIDS: every child’s path to college savings

April 18, 2024 /

California has launched a program that aims to make the dream of getting a college education a reality for every child in the State. 

CalKIDS, also known as the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program, is a savings account program for children that will provide eligible participants with college savings accounts, including seed deposits and other potential incentives to help pay for future higher education expenses.

CalKIDS aims to help families prepare financially and jumpstart their children’s college savings by automatically establishing an account for every baby born in the state, regardless of household income, along with eligible low-income public school students enrolled in grades 1-12.

“Every eligible child will have money deposited in their CalKIDS account. These funds can make a big difference. They can also serve as the beginning of additional savings for higher education,” the CalKIDS website states. “The initial deposit going to babies born on or after July 1, 2023, is $100 thanks to increased funding from the state. That is regardless of income. Babies born between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, are awarded $25 as an initial deposit.”

Additionally, newborns that fall into either of these categories can receive an additional $25 if a parent or guardian registers the account, and $50 if a parent links the account to a ScholarShare 529 account, either new or existing. 

CalKIDS also gives money for college or career training to eligible students in California. There are two eligible groups:

  • Low-income public school students enrolled in grades 1-12 during the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Low-income public school students enrolled in the 1st grade during the 2022-2023 academic year and every year thereafter

“Eligible public school students and English learners in 1st through 12th grade, as defined by the Local Control Funding Formula, will receive $500. An additional $500 will be deposited in their CalKIDS account if they are also identified as foster youth and $500 if they are homeless. The maximum award is $1,500,” the website adds.

To be eligible, your child must have been enrolled on Fall Census Day — the first Wednesday in October of the academic year — and must also be identified as English Learner or low-income by the Local Control Funding Formula. That information must be reported to the California Department of Education.

CalKIDS money can be used at eligible higher education institutions across the country. This includes community colleges, universities, vocational schools, and professional schools. To see which schools qualify, check the Federal School Code Search Tool.

CalKIDS funds can be used to cover education expenses such as:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Room and board
  • Computer equipment

To use your money for a qualified education expense, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Log in to your CalKIDS account

Step 2: Click “Request Distribution” and follow the directions

Note: For more detailed info, refer to the Program Guide.

Funds cannot be added into a CalKIDS account. To add to your child’s college savings, open a ScholarShare 529 account. You can easily make and manage contributions right from your secure online account.

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Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at