California is giving away money to help kids save for college. Does your child qualify?

·2 min read

More than 3.4 million California children can now receive money for college under a new state program which launched Wednesday.

The CalKIDS program dedicates $1.9 billion to low-income students in grades 1-12 and newborns who were born on or after July 1. Each low-income public school student can receive $500 in his or her college savings account, and foster youth and homeless students get an additional $500 deposit.

Newborns are receiving $25 to start CalKIDS accounts. They’ll get an extra $25 after parents register on the program’s online portal. If the family already has a ScholarShare 529 college saving account, the child can get another $50.

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

The CalKIDS program can be linked to existing ScholarShare 529 savings accounts to help financially prepare children for college. CalKIDS money can be used on tuition, books, room and board for colleges, universities, vocational and professional schools across the country, and some abroad.

Funds must be used before a child turns 26 and will only be directly distributed to the college the child is attending, according to the CalKIDS website.

“My goal with this program was to bridge the gap between wealth inequality and the high cost of education,” Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, said.

The California Department of Public Health and California Department of Education help identify which of the state’s 6 million children qualify. Enrollment in the program is automatic. The state has not released income guidelines to describe eligibility.

California families can access their accounts now through the state’s online portal. In the next few months, CalKIDS will send qualifying families additional information.

To confirm eligibility for the program, families can visit the CalKIDS website.