Figuring out how to pay for college can be difficult, especially for families with limited resources.
Students throughout California, including thousands of youth in Santa Clara County, can access a new benefit that could make college a reality. The California Kids Investment and Development Savings (CalKIDS) program expands access to higher education and encourages families to save for college and other forms of career training, regardless of household income.
CalKIDS is administered by the ScholarShare Investment Board, a state agency, and chaired by State Treasurer Fiona Ma. It automatically provides eligible low-income public school children in grades 1-12 in California with the tools to start saving for college, including an initial deposit and possible financial incentives in a college savings account.
There are two eligible groups for this program with unique benefits:
All children born in California on or after July 1, 2022 are eligible. Eligible newborns will have a CalKIDS account created in their name with an automatic initial deposit of $25. Plus, parents who register on the CalKIDS online parent portal, at CalKIDS.org, to view their baby’s account will receive an additional one-time $25 contribution. Additionally, parents who visit ScholarShare529.com to open a ScholarShare 529 college savings account—in which anyone can contribute to their child’s college savings—and link it to their CalKIDS account will receive an additional one-time $50 contribution.
All eligible low-income students in grades 1-12 identified by the Local Control Funding Formula enrolled on Fall Academic Census Day 2021 (Oct. 6, 2021) in a California public school had a CalKIDS account created in their name with an initial seed deposit, as well as the potential for additional financial incentives.
Starting fall 2022 and each year following, all eligible low-income public school first grade students enrolled on Fall Academic Census Day (first Wednesday in October) will be identified by the Local Control Funding Formula to receive funding from CalKIDS.
Eligible students will be automatically enrolled in the program the following spring or early summer.
Children may already have an account established in their name. Parents can claim the child’s college savings account by visiting CalKIDS.org. Parents will need the following information to claim the account:
- Statewide Student Identifier (SSID)—contact your school for assistance if you do not have the SSID number
- Student’s date of birth
- The name of the county where the student was enrolled
Research shows that children with a college savings account are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than children without college savings accounts. The state will offer eligible low-income public school students the following awards in a CalKIDS account to save for higher education, as applicable:
- A $500 automatic deposit for eligible low-income public school students enrolled in grades 1-12
- A $500 additional deposit for eligible students identified as foster youth
- A $500 additional deposit for eligible students experiencing homelessness
Over time, funds in a CalKIDS account can grow tax-free and be used for future higher education expenses, such as tuition, books and computers. When the student is ready to use their savings to pay for any qualified higher education expense, they can easily redeem their funds, including any earnings, from their CalKIDS account.
I encourage families to learn more about the program by visiting CalKIDS.org.
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.