Dewan: California launches the CalKIDS higher education savings program
Students at Merritt Trace Elementary School are pictured in this file photo.

The typical college costs including tuition, fees, room and board, transportation and supplies have increased over time. A recent report found the average cost of an undergraduate degree increased 169% between 1980 and 2020.

Securing the necessary resources to pay for college and career training programs for children is a barrier for many families. It is never too early for families to start planning for college and future education. When families can start saving early, they are able to accumulate and grow funds over time that can later be used for college or other training.

Research shows children with higher education savings accounts are more likely to go to college and graduate than children without any savings.

That is why California has joined seven other states in providing a savings program with the goal to increase access to higher education for all California children. The California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program (CalKIDS) can provide parents/caregivers with the foundation to save for future education costs with up to $1,500 in free money. Families can also contribute their own funds and merge the account with an existing 529 account.

CalKIDS is set up to give children in California a jump start on saving. To be eligible for CalKIDS, participants must be born in California on or after July 1, 2022, or an eligible low-income public school student in grades 1-12 in California.

Enrollment is automatic, with eligibility based on the Local Control Funding Formula.

To find out if your child is eligible, visit The Basics | CalKIDS site. Parents will need their child’s Statewide Student Identifier number, or SSID, to access the look-up feature on the site.

San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

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