LifeCents is a personalized financial wellness program aimed at increasing knowledge for a brighter and healthier financial future. The program assesses your financial habits and connects you with information, tools, and resources to help you reach your goals. LifeCents is designed to help increase your knowledge by allowing you to earn points and badges as you progress. Visit here to learn more about the program. Take the next step today and access the LifeCents resource through your CalKIDS portal!
How does the CalKIDS Program work?
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.
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 initial deposit going to babies born after July 1, 2023 is now $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.
Both groups of newborns can receive additional funds – $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.
Eligible public school students and English learners in first 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
Please note, funding amounts are subject to change.
When the student is ready to use their savings to pay for any qualified higher education expense, they can redeem their funds, including any earnings, from their CalKIDS account and/or their own ScholarShare 529 account.
Stay tuned for additional information.
How is CalKIDS funded?
CalKIDS is supported by state funds. Additionally, California law allows the ScholarShare Investment Board to accept private donations to support the program.
Where can I find my child’s Statewide Student Identifier (SSID) to register my student’s CalKIDS Account?
The SSID is a 10-digit ID. Sometimes, SSID numbers appear on transcripts. If unsure, please contact your child’s school or school district for the number.
Where can I find my newborn’s Local Registration Number to register my newborn’s CalKIDS Account?
The Local Registration Number appears on your child’s birth certificate. See example below.
Will I need to provide a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?
The CalKIDS Program does not require any taxpayer identification number to participate in the program.
Which low-income students are considered eligible for a CalKIDS Account?
School-age eligibility includes all low-income and English Learner students enrolled in a California public school on Census Day (the first Wednesday of October) who meet at least one of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) eligibility criteria based on data submitted and certified by your school district to the California Department of Education (CDE) in the fall. The CDE provides the list of students who are enrolled on Census Day and who meet one of the LCFF eligibility criteria, along with their data to CalKIDS. CalKIDS then automatically enrolls these students in the Program.
In general, the LCFF includes students who are enrolled on Census Day, and are low-income or English learners based on data submitted by your school district to the CDE. If your student was enrolled on Census Day, then in order to be eligible for a CalKIDS account, one of the following pieces of information must have been submitted and certified to CDE:
The student was eligible to receive meals from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), because:
Your family submitted to your school, by October 31, an NSLP application, or an Alternative Household Income Form, and the application or form was approved by your school district, OR
Your student was directly certified to receive free or reduced-price meals based on their participation in CalFresh, CalWORKs, FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations), or Medi-Cal
The student was identified, as of Census Day, as one the following:
Homeless, based on information you provided to your school or which the school learned from the district or county homeless liaison, OR
Foster, based on information the CDE received from the California Department of Social Services.
The student was identified as an English Learner based on the statewide assessment that your student took. The assessment is called the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC). Based on a family’s responses to the Home Language Survey, students must take the Initial ELPAC when they first enroll in a California public school. If the assessment identifies the student as an English Learner, then the student must take the ELPAC annually until the school reclassifies the student as Redesignated Fluent English Proficient (RFEP).
Please also refer to the following information below from the California Department of Education for additional guidance:
Will Newborns Eventually be Eligible for $500 or more?
Newborns who are identified as low-income in accordance with the Local Control Funding Formula when they reach 1st grade may be eligible to receive additional deposits.
My child has entered the first grade but why is their SSID showing as ineligible?
The California Department of Education provides data to the CalKIDS Program for incoming first graders in the late spring/early summertime. Please wait until then to check your child’s eligibility and register their account.
I just created my CalKIDS account and linked a ScholarShare 529, why don’t I see the additional incentives added?
Please allow up to 30 days for additional incentives to be added to a newborn’s CalKIDS account.
Why has my balance changed before I make a distribution request?
Due to market fluctuations, CalKIDS account balances may, at any time, including at the time of withdrawal, be worth more or less than the amount contributed by the State of California on behalf of students. For more details on the investment structure of your CalKIDS account, review the Program Information Guide
Why has my CalKIDS balance changed?
CalKIDS accounts are not guaranteed by the ScholarShare Investment Board, the State of California, or TIAA-CREF. Due to market fluctuations, CalKIDS account balances may, at any time, including at the time of withdrawal, be worth less than the amount contributed by the ScholarShare Investment Board on behalf of students.
I have made a CalKIDS distribution request, what’s next?
Congratulations on taking this next step. Please know that distributions from a CalKIDS Account will only be sent directly to the institution of higher education you are currently attending. Distribution requests in good order will be processed and a check will be mailed to your institution of higher education. While your school may receive the money within 10-14 days, it may take them longer to process it. Please be sure check with your school.
Will CalKIDS funds impact my ability to receive financial aid?
The CalKIDS award is considered a scholarship from the State of California. The funds should be processed according to your institution’s guidelines and procedures around scholarship funds. Please consult your financial aid office.
Are CalKIDS distributions taxable?
Amounts in a CalKIDS account that are distributed to an Eligible Institution on behalf of a student generally should be federal, state and local income tax-free to the student if such amounts are treated as qualified scholarships under Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 117 generally treats as qualified scholarships amounts used for tuition and fees required for attendance at an Eligible Institution and for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses of instruction at an Eligible Institution. If CalKIDS account funds are used for any other purpose, including room and board, such amounts may be taxable. This should not be construed as tax advice. Individual circumstances vary and students should consult with their tax advisor regarding the tax implications of a CalKIDS account.
Does having a CalKIDS account affect my family’s state support benefits?
Please contact your county welfare department.
What If My Child Leaves California Before Enrolling in a Qualified Institution of Higher Education?
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.
Can my child use funds from a CalKIDS Account to attend a higher education institution outside of California?
Yes, eligible institution are defined for the Program as “Eligible Educational Institutions” as that term is defined by Section 529(e)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code and generally include postsecondary institutions that are eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs, which includes thousands of colleges, universities, and technical/vocational schools nationwide and even some abroad. For additional information, contact your school to determine if it qualifies as an eligible educational institution.
Do the funds in my CalKIDS Account expire?
Eligible Program participants have until age 26 to use all of the funds from their CalKIDS Account.
How should higher education institutions treat a CalKIDS distribution?
A distribution check from the CalKIDS Program is a scholarship from the State of California for a student attending an Eligible Institution. Distribution checks do not contain Section 529 monies.
California state law governing the CalKIDS Program, including information on qualified expenses, can be found in Education Codes 69996 – 69996.9. Examples of allowable expenses include tuition, fees, books, certain on or off-campus room and board costs, and computer and other required equipment for attendance.
As stated above, CalKIDS scholarships can be used for a wide range of higher education expenses. If a student does not have a balance at the Eligible Institution to apply the funds toward, the funds should be processed according to the institution’s guidelines and procedures on how to process scholarship funds in these situations where some higher education expenses may be incurred by the student outside of the institution.
What is ScholarShare 529?
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.
Why is Saving for College Important?
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.
What if I Already Have a ScholarShare 529 Account For My Child?
Newborn babies and low-income 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.
Who can I contact for more information?
For more information about CalKIDS, contact the ScholarShare Investment Board at [email protected] or (888) 445-2377 between 8 am – 5 pm (PST) except for major holidays.