If the government presented you with extra money, would you take it?

You don’t have to imagine this.This already happens. Really.

The thing is - not everyone is aware that the government contributes money to Canadians saving in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). It’s an incentive for families to save for their children’s future.

It’s easy. You put money into an RESP, the government adds education savings grant funds. It’s kind of like having exclusive access to money for the future.

Of course, there are RESP rules to follow, but when the government is making this money available, it’s worth learning how to go about getting it.

What government grants are available for my child’s RESP?

For many of us, the old expression, ‘every little bit helps’, rings true. And we all know college, university and other post-secondary programs aren’t getting any cheaper. Using information from Statistics Canada and university websites and estimates for inflation, CST forecasts that by 2040, it could cost as much as $165,000 for a four year university degree based on the previous 5 year's average for a student living away from home, including tuition and compulsory fees, books, room and board, entertainment and transportation. Here’s what we mean by exclusive access to government money.

When you open an RESP, you have the ability to unlock these government grants. This makes RESPs stand out from any other savings plan. There are matching grant programs from the federal government and some provincial governments, which add 20% or more to your savings in an RESP.

How to maximize government grants

Here’s how to get the most out of your money. The earlier you start an RESP, the sooner you can take advantage of compounding. In addition to that, income earned in an RESP is tax-sheltered.

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)  is available to everyone who opens an RESP. It matches 20% of the first $2,500 you contribute to your child’s RESP annually, up to a lifetime maximum of $7,200.

For lower income families, there are additional incentives for saving early and planning for a child’s education. Depending on eligibility, it’s possible to receive another $2,000 in government funding in your RESP through the Canada Learning Bond , which is offered, just because you have opened an RESP.

Don’t forget about provincial government incentives. For example, British Columbia upped the ante for BC families by offering $1,200 to eligible children through the BC Training and Education Savings Grant, also known as the BC Grant.

Bottom line: to maximize your money and the grants offered by the government, contribute $2,500 or boost your savings as much as you can by the end of the year.

Facts About Registered Education Savings Plans
  • Income earned in an RESP is tax-sheltered
  • Saving in an RESP allows you to access government grants
  • The federal government matches your contributions 20% of the first $2,500 you contribute annually up to a CESG lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child
  • Some provinces offer additional grant money on top of the federal grant
How to maximize government grants

When you open an RESP you’re not just preparing for your child’s future, you’re safeguarding your own. The benefit of saving money in an RESP means you can avoid borrowing or going into debt in order to afford your child’s dream school.

And those government grants are an incredible opportunity to boost your bottom line. So, why not get a jump start on saving for your child’s future and take advantage of the money that the government has available today?