For millions of parents and children in California, figuring how to pay for college can seem like an impossible equation.
"We should not be making it difficult to the extent that students decide whether to even get their degrees or not. We should be figuring out ways of making it easier for them," said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, who helped create the program.
With help from Gov. Newsom, Nazarian has launched a new college savings program to change that. It’s called CalKIDS and automatically deposits $25 in an account for every child in California born on or after July 1st of this year. Users can also get $25 for registering online, plus another $50 for linking a new or existing Scholarshare 529 account to the CalKIDS account for $100.
In addition, eligible low-income public school students in 1st-12th grade will get at least $500, and an extra $500 if they’re foster youth, plus another $500 if they’re homeless for $1,500. Nazarian estimates 70% of children would qualify for that $500 in 1st grade. The money can pay for college, university, or a variety of vocational and professional schools.
"Here’s the federal government or state government in this case making this initial investment so that we tell you that we believe in you and we want you to aspire to accomplishing whatever it is that you put your mind to," Nazarian said.
He points to research that shows children with savings accounts of up to $500 are three times more likely to enroll in college and almost four times more likely to graduate than children with no savings.
"This could be a very bright line dividing factor between whether or not future generations of kids are able to pursue college," Nazarian said.
Currently, he says only a small percentage of families have a 529 college savings account through the state.
"The idea was to incentivize parents, guardians, loved ones, to make investments," he said.
Nazarian acknowledges it is only a drop in the bucket as reports show students can expect to pay upwards of $400,000 just for an undergraduate degree in the next 15-20 years.
"Instead of doing nothing and just worrying about the looming costs, at least this is one step toward addressing the need," he said.
Giving children across California valuable resources from the cradle to college.