The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is expanding a savings account program to help students begin saving money for college.

Called Opportunity L.A. (OLA), the program is made available to first-grade students at participating elementary schools.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez says that this program is a substantial investment for young people, their future, and the stability of their families’ financial futures as well.

The councilwoman announced that more than 100,000 LAUSD students have been provided with free college savings accounts since the program began two years ago. Parents can enroll their students in the program with only a $50 deposit.

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The city and county of Los Angeles, LAUSD, and Citibank have partnered since the program’s onset and secured additional funds to maintain it.

First-grade students taking part in the program will receive a welcome kit in the mail during the semester. Once the account is set up, families will be able to make deposits in person at a local Citibank or even online.

Councilwoman Rodriguez has stated that she has secured a $1.5 million grant from the State dedicated to outreach efforts.

Interested parents are encouraged to go to to find out more about how to start their children’s accounts. 

Opportunity L.A. states that students with college savings are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate from college. The benefits of an Opportunity LA Account range from allowing you and your child to save money for their education after high school to having easy access to make deposits to the account at a local Citibank branch or online to savings accounts that are available to students regardless of a student or parent’s income, background, or immigration status. Opportunities are also available to participants for additional savings awards.

There is no cost to a student or their family to participate in Opportunity LA. Program funds can be used for pre-college education expenses and post-secondary education, which will be determined by the program. Expenses included can be pre-college expenses such as application fees, ACT/SAT testing fees or preparatory classes, enrichment services such as “Summer Bridge Programs,” and deposits for on-campus room and board. Post-secondary expenses include tuition, mandatory fees, books, supplies (including computer equipment), and education such as colleges, universities, vocational schools, and any two- or four-year degree programs from accredited institutions.

Participation in the program will not impact other benefits that students and their families already receive, such as CalFresh or WIC. These funds will not be counted as income for purposes of eligibility for these benefits. In the case of a family emergency, the student or parent/guardian can request an early withdrawal of some or all of the contributions in a student’s account. Restrictions can apply, however.

Funds can also be transferred into a 529 account upon the participant’s request. However, program contributions, such as the initial deposit and any incentives earned through Opportunity L.A. while in the program, cannot be transferred and will stay in the custodial account.