First Steps Toward College

young boy

Frequently Asked Questions

CalKIDS aims to make the dream of getting a college education a reality for every child in the State of California, especially those from traditionally underserved communities. To achieve this, CalKIDS will be helping families prepare financially and jumpstart their college savings by automatically establishing savings accounts for every baby born in the state and eligible low-income public school students enrolled in first through 12th grade, as defined for purposes of the Local Control Funding Formula.

Every eligible child will have a seed amount deposited in their CalKIDS account. The amount of the seed deposit for newborn babies has not been determined yet. For eligible public school students in first through 12th grade, as defined for purposes of the Local Control Funding Formula, the seed deposit amount will be $500. An additional $500 will be deposited in their CalKIDS account if they are also identified as foster youth and/or homeless students, for a maximum amount of $1,500.

Families may also be offered additional financial incentives for engaging in activities, such as registering on the CalKIDS Parent Portal to see their child’s account balance, participating in financial education workshops, opening and contributing to their own ScholarShare 529 college savings account, and linking their CalKIDS, ScholarShare 529, and local children’s savings accounts (if available in your community).

When the student is ready to utilize their savings for higher education, they can simply redeem their funds, including any earnings, tax-free from their CalKIDS account and/or their own ScholarShare 529 account to pay for any qualified higher education expense.

Stay tuned for complete terms and conditions, program launch date, and information about eligibility and the withdrawal of funds.

ScholarShare 529 is California’s state-sponsored 529 college savings plan. Administered by the ScholarShare Investment Board, an agency of the state of California and chaired by the State Treasurer, ScholarShare 529 has been helping California families of all income levels save for future higher education expenses since 1999. ScholarShare 529 offers a diverse set of low-cost investment options, tax-deferred growth, and withdrawals free from state and federal taxes when used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition and fees, books, certain room and board costs, computer equipment, and other required supplies.

ScholarShare 529 funds are also flexible and can be used at a wide variety of educational institutions, which include technical schools, community colleges, four-year public and private universities, graduate programs, and some institutions abroad. For more details about ScholarShare 529, click here.

For many families, the pursuit of a college education is often delayed or disrupted altogether due to concerns about the rising costs of tuition and student loan debt. This is especially true for low-income and first-generation students and their parents.

Research, however, shows that children with children’s savings accounts of up to $500 are three times more likely to enroll in college and nearly four times more likely to graduate than children with no savings. Therefore, by investing in our children and empowering their families to save and accumulate assets, CalKIDS aims to create a positive outlook and raise expectations that an educational pursuit, such as a college education, is possible.

For information about this and other research, please click here.

Program participants must reside in California for at least one year before they can use the funds in their CalKIDS account to pay for qualified higher education expenses at an eligible institution of higher education.

The funds in a CalKIDS account may be use for any qualified higher education expense, such as tuition and fees, books, certain room and board costs, computer equipment, and other required supplies.

Although the ScholarShare Investment Board is still in the process of developing the CalKIDS program, newborn babies and public school students that are deemed eligible for a CalKIDS account will not be penalized for having an existing ScholarShare 529 college savings account. Therefore, parents and legal guardians are encouraged to start saving early by opening and contributing to a ScholarShare 529 college savings account. Getting started is quick and easy. To learn more about ScholarShare 529, click here.

CalKIDS is supported by state and federal funds. Additionally, California law allows the ScholarShare Investment Board to accept private donations to support the program.

For more information about CalKIDS, contact the ScholarShare Investment Board at scholarshare@treasurer.ca.gov or (916) 651-6380.