CalKIDS: Free Money for College Explained Simply 

By Inland Empire Success | June 17, 2024

Welcome, parents and students! Planning for college can be overwhelming, but the CalKIDS program is here to help make it a little easier. Administered by the ScholarShare Investment Board, an agency of the State of California, CalKIDS provides eligible students with free money for college or career training. Let’s break down what this program offers and how your family can benefit. 

Who is Eligible?  

There are two main groups who can benefit from CalKIDS:

All children born in California on or after July 1, 2022.  

  • Newborns born after July 1, 2023, receive an automatic initial deposit of $100. 
  • Babies born between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, receive an initial deposit of $25. 

Additionally, Parents who claim their account on the CalKIDS online parent portal at will receive an additional one-time $25 contribution. Linking a CalKIDS account with a ScholarShare 529 account, California’s official college savings plan, will add another $50.

Low-income public school students enrolled in grades 1-12 during the 2021-2022 academic year and low-income public school students enrolled in 1st grade during the 2022-2023 academic year and every year thereafter.

Award Amounts for Students 

Eligible low-income public school students can receive up to $1,500 in their CalKIDS accounts: 

  • $500 initial deposit for every eligible low-income public school student in grades 1-12. 
  • $500 additional deposit for foster youth. 
  • $500 additional deposit for homeless youth. 

How to Claim a CalKIDS Account 

For Newborns:
Parents will need to provide the following information: Child’s county of birth, date of birth, and either the Local Registration Number from the birth certificate or the CalKIDS code from the notification letter.
For Students: 
Parents will need to provide the following information: County of student’s school as of Fall Academic Census Day, date of birth, and either the Statewide Student Identifier (available from the child’s school) or the CalKIDS code from the notification letter.  

Using CalKIDS Funds 

CalKIDS money can be used at eligible higher education institutions across the country, including community colleges, universities, vocational schools, and professional schools. These funds can cover: 

  • Tuition and fees 
  • Books and supplies 
  • Room and board 
  • Computer equipment 

Funds are sent directly to the institution of higher education as requested by the student. Participants must be at least 17 years old to request a withdrawal and have until age 26 to use the funds. 

ScholarShare 529 

Parents can save more on their own by opening a ScholarShare 529 account, California’s official college savings plan. This plan offers diverse investment options, tax-deferred growth, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses. Linking a ScholarShare 529 account to a CalKIDS account allows parents to view all balances in one place. 

Make Saving For College Easy 

The CalKIDS program is designed to expand access to higher education and encourage families to save for college and career training. By providing initial deposits and potential bonuses, CalKIDS helps to alleviate some of the financial burden of higher education.  

For more information about the CalKIDS program, visit