On the memo line of the check, it said, "REPAYMENT FOR WHAT CALIF. DID FOR ME!"
Ferguson said he collected roughly $1,100 for about four months in 1964 when he was laid off as an engineer at Douglas Aircraft.
He used the unemployment money to go back to school to study computer programming.
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said the money will go toward public schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.