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New program aims to make higher education more accessible

Eligible low-income public school students will be offered up to $1,500.|

The State of California has launched a program that could make higher education more accessible to families in Sonoma Valley.

“ … California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program [CalKIDS] will automatically provide eligible, low-income public school children in grades 1-12 with the tools to start saving for college, including an initial seed deposit and possible financial incentives in a college savings account,” wrote Dr. Adrian Palazuelos, superintendent of Sonoma Valley Unified School District, in his letter to the district community on Tuesday.

Eligible low-income public school students will be offered up to $1,500 through the following awards, to be placed in a CalKIDS account to save for higher education.

• $500 automatic deposit for eligible low-income public school students enrolled in first through 12th grade

• $500 additional deposit for eligible students identified as foster youth

• $500 additional deposit for eligible students experiencing homelessness

Also, all babies born in California on or after July 1, 2022, will receive up to $100 in a CalKIDS college savings account.

“The State of California created the program to expand access to higher education and encourage families to jump-start saving for college and other forms of career training, regardless of household income,” Palazuelos wrote.

Over time, funds in a CalKIDS account can grow tax-free and be used for future higher education expenses, including tuition, books, computers, and room and board. When students are ready to use the savings to pay for any qualified higher education expense, they can easily redeem their funds, including any earnings, from their CalKIDS account.

“Figuring out how to pay for college can be tough, especially for families with limited resources,” Palazuelos wrote. “Fortunately, the State of California has launched a program that could make higher education more accessible for families in our community.”

To learn more about the program or register for an account, visit CalKIDS.org.

Reach the reporter, Dan Johnson, at daniel.johnson@sonomanews.com.

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