Is a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) worth It?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Savings Calculator Shows Wealth, Investment In Capital TNYou may already know what is an RESP; however, here’s some information just in case you aren’t sure. A registered education savings plan (RESP) is a contract between an individual (the subscriber) and a person or organization (the promoter). Under the contract, the subscriber names one or more beneficiaries (the future student(s)) and agrees to make contributions for them, and the promoter agrees to pay educational assistance payments (EAPs) to the beneficiaries.

An RESP is a great way for you to save for your children’s education, much like you’re saving for your retirement with an RRSP. Look at what you can afford to put away, and do a monthly contribution so it’s easier on the pocketbook. An RESP is also a great way for the grandparents or aunts/uncles to contribute, just remember that you can only contribute up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000 per child.

Rather than all those toys, and other things that kids just grow out of, this is a great present (the kid may not realize it now though) for when the child is grown and off to post-secondary education. You can even show the child how the fund is growing, and maybe have them contribute when they get jobs.

The advantage of an RESP is that the withdrawals are taxable to the beneficiary. The income earned is paid as educational assistance payments (EAPs). Beneficiaries include the EAPs in their income for the year in which they receive them. However, they do not have to include the contributions they receive in their income. The student will get a T4A with the EAPs in Box 042.

An educational assistance payment (EAP) is the amount paid to a beneficiary (a student) from an RESP to help finance the cost of post-secondary education. An EAP consists of the Canada Education Savings Grant, the Canada Learning Bond, amounts paid under a Provincial Education Savings Programs and the earnings on the money saved in the RESP.

Another great thing about RESPs is the government gives you money in the form of grants. These grants can be the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), Canada Learning Bond (CLB), or any designated provincial education savings program. If the government is giving out money you may as well take some, and help your child out at the same time.

Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provides an incentive for parents, family and friends to save for your child’s post-secondary education by paying a grant based on the amount contributed to an RESP for the child. The CESG money will be deposited directly into the child’s RESP.

No matter what your family income is, ESDC pays a basic CESG of 20% of annual contributions you make to all eligible RESPs for a qualifying beneficiary to a maximum CESG of $500 in respect of each beneficiary ($1,000 in CESG if there is unused grant room from a previous year), and a lifetime limit of $7,200.

Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) also provides an additional incentive of up to $2,000 to help modest-income families start saving early for their child’s education after high school (post-secondary education).

For families entitled to the national child benefit supplement (NCBS) for their child, the CLB will provide an initial $500 to children born on or after January 1, 2004. To help cover the cost of opening an RESP for the child, ESDC will pay an extra $25 with the first $500 bond. Thereafter, the CLB will also pay an additional $100 annually for up to 15 years for each year the family is entitled to the NCBS for the child.

Certain provinces encourage families to plan and save for their children’s post-secondary education by offering incentives to open an RESP. Currently, only Alberta, Quebec, and Saskatchewan offer such incentives.

Let’s face it, and education is somewhat pricey, and will probably only go higher. We’re better off than some counties as our post-secondary education system is highly subsidized. That said, it doesn’t hurt to start early in a child’s life to start saving for their education, and get other family members involved. Make it fun and let the child know that you’re thinking of them by saving for their future.

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