Reasons to opt for an RESP
Most parents would love to be able to open every door for their children and to support them in their post-secondary education. The reality is, unfortunately, that many vocational and post-secondary education programs are expensive. And that’s without factoring in the many related expenses, such as lodging and transportation costs, on top of the tuition fees themselves.
In fact, according to Employment and Social Development Canada, the average cost for a year of post-secondary education in 2014–15 was $16,600.1 That means a four-year university program would end up costing $66,000. And who knows, maybe your child would want to go even further with a specialized degree, a master’s degree or even a doctorate. In this case, the total tuition cost would be even higher at the end of it all. Your child would be starting off in the job market with a significant level of debt.
To assist students, the government has set up the registered education savings plan (RESP) so that parents, grandparents and even family friends can help save for a child’s education. Generous government RESP grants are in place to invest in the children’s future and help them achieve their career goals. The federal government grant equals 20% of the contributions made, up to a certain maximum, and in Quebec, the provincial government provides another 10% on top of that. And with the growing emergence of the skilled trades, our governments are realizing that an educated population is sure to enrich society as a whole.
Where to start and what are your options?
When you develop good savings habits and contribute to your children’s RESP while they are young, you are giving them access to a larger amount when they start their post-secondary education. You will also get better returns and more grants.
Your children will be able to use all the grants and the returns generated. For your part, when your children begin their post-secondary education, you will get back all your contributions. You can take the reimbursement of your contributions and invest in any goal or project you like (maybe time for that home renovation, or that trip you’ve been wanting to take?), look into a variety of tax optimization strategies with the help of an advisor, or even give these amounts to your child.
There may be differences in the RESP offer, terms, conditions and rules from one financial institution or foundation to the next, so the best thing would be to contact a financial advisor to get a good understanding of this product and take full advantage of it. That way you’ll find a product that meets your needs and you’ll also make a winning choice for your children’s future!