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RESPs - Education Savings

College graduation | Greenfeld Financial Management, Delta, BC

As you plan for the birth of your child, you may find yourself wondering what life will be like for them when they get older. While it might seem early to be thinking about college or university, ensuring a child has access to a good education will give them the best possible start in life. Having an RESP for their education savings is crucial!


Consider these quick facts about the benefits of post-secondary education from Statistics Canada:

  • Canada’s future labour market will have a preference for skilled workers in a global, technologically advanced economy

  • College and university graduates are already more likely to have a full-time job, and more likely to keep it during an economic downturn

  • The average cost of post-secondary averages over $89,000 for a four year program (including housing).

Registered Education Savings Plan


One of the best ways to save for your child’s future education is through a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). While you save, the government will kick in up to $7,200 through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The CESG represents 20% of the first $2,500 of annual contributions paid into an RESP for a child under 18 who is a Canadian resident.


The maximum annual CESG payment is $500 per child. Taking advantage of this free money can go a long way to finance your child’s education down the road. Putting aside even small amounts each month will translate into substantial savings later on. When your child does attend a post-secondary institute, all your contributions are passed on to them tax-free and taxes are only paid on the investment growth and grants (usually at a much lower tax rate).

A summary of the most recent rules and details about RESPs is available on the Services Canada website. There are also some rather specific rules that may come into play. Your advisor should be contacted when you are ready to establish your RESP. There are a number of decisions that need to be made such as the best type of investment(s) to put in the RESP as well as how you would like to make your contributions, which could be a lump sum or ongoing payments.

What is the cost of waiting?

If you plan on funding your children's education, then taking advantage of the CESG early is super important.

Here is a calculator that allows you to see what the cost of waiting will be if you delay in opening up an RESP:

BC Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG)

Children of BC residents are eligible for the BC Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG). This is a provincial incentive designed to help families save for their children’s post-secondary education. The BCTESG is a $1,200 one-time grant to eligible children born on or after January 1, 2007. When an eligible child turns six years old, the subscriber may be able to apply for the grant.


Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)

The TFSA will allow taxpayers 18 and over to contribute up to $6,000 per year (as of 2020) into the account where any income earned will grow tax free and funds may be withdrawn with no tax implications. The range of investments available is essentially the same as provided with an RRSP. The major difference between the TFSA and an RRSP is that there is no deduction allowed for a TFSA. Although an RESP is preferable due to the government grants provided, if you would like to save funds above and beyond the RESP grant limits, the TFSA should be an attractive option.

In Trust For Accounts (ITFs)

These are investment accounts set up for a minor child, typically by a parent, in anticipation of the child taking control of the assets when they reach the age of majority, ordinarily age 18. Even though these are usually structured as ‘informal’ trusts without the same amount of documentation as a formal trust, the courts have held that they are in fact trusts and that the assets belong to the beneficiary (your child). Any income earned on the account (dividends and interest) will be attributed back to you as the contributor, whereas any capital gains will usually be attributed to the child. Prior to the introduction of the Canada Education Savings Grants (CESGs), in trust accounts were a fairly popular alternative to RESPs due to their flexibility. However, now that the CESGs are available it is usually more beneficial to establish and make contributions to an RESP. In cases where contributions hit the $50,000 maximum for RESPs, in trust accounts would certainly be an option worth considering.


Contact our office for additional information about how you can save for your children's education.

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