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Claim your child’s college savings now — it’s free money!

College is expensive and many families are unable to save for their child’s tuition. California’s CalKIDS Program is investing in the state’s newborns with a small financial gift designed to incentivize children to attend higher education.

“There’s been a lot of research in the social welfare space that suggests that programs that are universal work best. Families aren’t seen with stigmas, they feel they can participate without losing benefits to another program. There’s no question of eligibility,” said Noah Lightman, CalKIDS Program Manager. “What the state is saying is instead of a traditional scholarship that requires reaching certain grades or milestones, this is saying you were born in the state of California, we believe in you and want you to have opportunities to pursue higher education, which we know over time can lead to higher incomes.”

Every child born after July 1, 2022, automatically has an account containing $25-$100, depending on when they were born. These funds are called “seed deposits,” which are tied to stocks and have the potential to increase over time. Each account that is claimed will receive an additional $25 deposit. And families that choose to add their own funds will receive an additional $50 deposit. Families only need a child’s birth certificate to claim the account.

“Funds are invested aggressively, but overtime they become more conservative as the child get closer to the time to go to college,” said Lightman. “If the account gets up to $500, that’s not enough to fully fund higher education expenses, but if it can support some room and board, books, etc. And that can go a long way for families who don’t have a lot of money. But for newborns, families who start saving now can really add up.”

A second track of the program provides funds for students of an older age whose families earn below a certain qualifying income. Those students’ accounts are seeded with between $500-$1,500. All children in the program have until age 26 to use the funds for an approved college-related expense. If not used in time, the funds are reclaimed by the state and distributed to a different child.

Statewide, Lightman said there are about 4 million children with an account; 3.5 million are students and about 700,000 are newborns. To claim the account, visit and enter the child’s 13-digit local registration number, the county in which they were born, and their date of birth.

“It’s never too early to start saving for college,” said Lightman. “And this is the easiest college savings account program in the world.”

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