The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for Educational Planning

Facts about an RESP

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a savings plan registered with the government that can help you save for your child’s post-secondary education.

Money invested in an RESP grows tax-deferred. The government helps contribute to your savings with education grants.

Later in life, as your child enrols at a qualifying post-secondary institution, you can withdraw the funds for educational purposes. The payments made from these funds are called Educational Assistance Payments (EAPs).

Invested income and government grants received when withdrawn from the RESP are taxable. You do not pay tax on the contributions you made using your own money. Then these amounts are taxed in the tax return of the student – usually with little or no tax payable as students generally will be in the lowest tax bracket.

How do RESPs help my money accumulate?

  • Starting to use an RESP for your child early, while they are young, gives you more time for your contributed funds to grow.
  • The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) will match 20% of annual contributions, up to $500 per year
  • These contributions can continue until you reach the lifetime limit of $7,200 per child
  • Investing your Canada Child Benefit can assist you while saving enough to qualify for the maximum CESG amount

Federal Government-funded education grants

The Government of Canada supports saving for a child’s education by offering grants to a child’s RESP – offering you additional funds to accumulate educational savings.

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The basic Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) increases your year by year contribution by 20%, up to $500 per beneficiary each year to a lifetime limit of $7,200 per beneficiary. Additional CESG grants may be available, depending on your income.

Please talk to us for more information about the RESP and the CESG grant as it applies to your province.

Source: CRA

Education’s effect on future income

How parents help shape the financial future of their children

In Canada, the government allows a welcome tax break when you save for your child’s education. As parents, we need to consider the effect that education will have on the future income and lifestyle of our children.

The Internet is bringing many changes quickly: Amazon is replacing many of our once-renowned retailers. Google sweepingly controls business success: who gets to view your website and consequently buy your services is based on paying for Google AdWords. The world has moved into one of the most profound eras of change in human history. Our children, for the most part, are just not prepared for this new reality. The gap to accessing a secure income, or obtaining a job with a substantial retirement pension is widening.

Parents who can see the chaos, the economic uncertainty, the stress and the complexity in the world, know intuitively that the new wave of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) call for an educational revolution. Our children must be able to get a post-secondary education while aiming for higher accreditation in a career known to provide substantial income that keeps up with inflation. Serious financial planning can provide significant funds to go to university or college. The Financial Comfort Zone Study found the following:

“Canadians who establish registered education savings plans (RESPs) for their children are setting their kids up for financial success later in life because there’s a direct correlation between having post-secondary education and wealth”.1

The study revealed the following:

• Among those holding a postgraduate degree (the highest level of education), 23% have investible assets of $500,000 or more, whereas approximately only 11% if the schooling is at the post-secondary level.

• Of those with only a high-school diploma, only 8% have investible assets of $500,000 or more, while 72% have investible assets of $100,000 or less.

Parents can influence the education of their children by fostering the right attitude toward the need for educational training for a financially sustainable future.

“Among parents who gave education a high rating of importance and who had one or more children living at home, 49% indicated they had established an RESP for their children. Similarly, 45% of parents who gave education a medium rating of importance and who had one or more children living at home indicated that they had established an RESP for their children. In contrast, only 15% of parents who gave education a low rating in terms of importance and who had one or more children living at home had established an RESP for their children.” 2

What ways can we plan for our Child’s education? Consider using both the traditional Registered Educational Savings Plan (RESP) and the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) as an educational savings vehicle. A TFSA offers parents another tax-efficient method to provide for education planning.

1 Credo Consulting Inc. and Investment Executive

2 ibid

Plan your RRSP Ahead to Reduce Taxable Income

It pays to plan your RRSP contributions before the end of the year to reduce your taxes that will be due on the current taxable year. To achieve this, assess your income and calculate how you can optimise the use of an RRSP to reduce your taxable income.

You may have Carry-forward Contribution Room

If you have not previously invested up to your maximum RRSP contribution limit, CRA allows you to carry over unused contribution room into future years for an indefinite period. Look on your Notice of Assessment.

What can you deduct on your tax return?

You can claim a deduction for:

  • contributions you made to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) or Specified Pension Plan (SPP)
  • contributions you made to your spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP or SPP
  • your unused RRSP, PRPP or SPP contributions from a previous year

You cannot claim a deduction for:

  • fees charged to buy and sell within a trusteed RRSP
  • amounts you pay for administration services for an RRSP
  • the interest you paid on money you borrowed to contribute to an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP
  • any capital losses within your RRSP
  • employer contributions to your PRPP

What is the deadline to contribute to an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP for the purpose of claiming a deduction on your tax return?

The Income Tax Act sets the deadline as “on or before the day that is 60 days after the end of the year”, which is March 1st except in a leap year, when it will be February 29th; or where the deadline falls on a weekend, it may be extended.

Can contributions be made to a deceased individual’s RRSP, PRPP, or SPP?

No one can contribute to a deceased individual’s RRSP, PRPP or SPP after the date of death. But, the deceased individual’s legal representative can make contributions to the surviving spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP and SPP. The contribution must be made within the year of death or during the first 60 days after the end of that year. Contributions made to a spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP or SPP can be claimed on the deceased individual’s tax return, up to that individual’s RRSP/PRPP deduction limit, for the year of death.

What is not considered an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contribution?

The following are not considered to be an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contribution for the purpose of claiming a deduction on your tax return. We can point out the special rules that apply if you:

  • repay funds that you withdrew under the Home Buyer’s Plan
  • repay funds that you withdrew under the Lifelong Learning Plan

Note: It is recommended that you get more information on this subject by calling our office or your accountant.

How is your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit determined?

The Canada Revenue Agency generally calculates your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit as follows:

The lesser of:

  • 18% of your earned income in the previous year, and
  • the annual RRSP limit


  • your pension adjustments (PA)
  • your past service pension adjustments (PSPA)


  • your pension adjustment reversals (PAR), and
  • your unused RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contributions at the end of the previous year

Source: CRA

RRSP versus Non-Registered Investments

Let’s compare taxed and tax-free investment returns to see this advantage. First, let’s look at investing outside of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). If you have a marginal tax rate of 40% and invest $2,000 per year for the next 30 years at an average 7% annual return, you will accumulate $120,864.

Now consider if you invested the same money in the RRSP. If you contribute $2,000 every year to your RRSP for the next 30 years, and you earn an average 7% return, you will earn $202,146. The tax-advantaged growth empowers your RRSP as the growth is compounded over a long period of time.

Why is it important to save for retirement? RRSPs can give you the financial resources you need for a comfortable retirement that will meet your lifestyle requirements. Many Canadians are living for 30 years during retirement with a need to provide an income.

Investing is a strategic process, not the final goal


Investing is the strategic planning process, not the final goal It is important to realize that investing is not the goal. The goal is based on a future result that you aim for using mathematical calculations. Investing is what you do in the meantime while facing a multitude of circumstances in the world that affects the market where stocks and securities lose or gain potential to grow, which means, intermittently affecting your control of the end results in relation to your goal.

While you are young and have a family and/or close dependents, you also want to enjoy life and create memories. You want to live in the present to minimize fear of the future during the investment process, being mindful that preparing to retire means engaging in the process with an advisor using timeless principles.


Perhaps you’ve decided that you must accelerate your combined RRSP savings if you are to possibly realize your retirement dreams. Here is a strategic process that works all year round, well ahead of, and therefore, eliminating the annual RRSP deadline frenzy. This investment also works well when investing using TFSAs.

A systematic investment strategy called Dollar-Cost-Averaging (DCA). By pre-arranging a schedule of making equal monthly investment purchases of a mutual fund, you can realize big advantages:

1) Get your RRSP money working earlier. Every year, a good deal of money begins working long before the RRSP deadline. This gets part of your fund money invested earlier every year in small amounts you can afford. DCA allows for a convenient pre-payment of your annual RRSP contribution, instead of in the last anxious moments of February before the annual deadline.


2) You can profit from more gains after buying during market downturns. You needn’t worry about market-timing decisions when you buy your mutual fund units. Investing a fixed dollar amount every month adds a benefit over the year. You will purchase more mutual fund units when the price is lower, fewer when the price is higher. While consistently purchasing throughout market declines, when units cost less, you buy more units with the same dollar. Thus, fears of the market dropping in value are replaced with the knowledge that you will eventually own far more fund units over time, as long as you continue to invest in the same scheduled manner when the market is down. The purchases are scheduled, not “timed”. There is a vast difference.

Not even the experts know exactly when the market will peak, or stop declining. This means that by waiting to purchase at a lower unit price, an investor might miss buying lower if the market begins climbing back suddenly. But, if you schedule consistent buying, using DCA, you won’t miss buying the lower-priced units.

What is the upside of DCA in a lower priced market? Fund units purchased during temporary market downturns can be very profitable once the market recoups any loss. Subsequent upward moving markets will greatly increase the value of every unit held (especially with the addition of those lower-priced bargain units bought when the market value declined, and as it inclines above each unit price purchase during periods of market gains). More units bought at lower prices, both while a market loses value and while the market swings back gaining momentum during a major bull market growth spell, offer the potential for future profit.

3) One more benefit. You’ll be less influenced by market fear factors if you remember: Investing is a strategic process, not the final goal. Dollar-cost-averaging fund purchasers are isolated from negative market psychology. Contrary to the crowd, they now automatically buy through periods of opportunity when the price is low, the time when most people often do the opposite — sell out of fear. Dollar-cost-averaging encourages determined, intelligent, and disciplined investment behaviour.

Education planning has serious financial consequences


As parents, we need to consider the effect that education will have on the future income and lifestyle of our children. When Steve Jobs of Apple knew he had a short time to live, he became assertively interested and vowed that he would do everything in his power to ensure that his son received a good education.

As the Internet brings many changes quickly, we are seeing many manufacturers moving plants overseas. Stephen Covey, the best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, predicted a need for technological education several years ago, echoing what we see everywhere: manufacturing increasingly calls for brain work rather than metal-bashing that empower the industrial age — further making a point:

The winds of education reform are beginning to stir once again. Our collective conscience is being nudged. And there’s a good reason. The world has moved into one of the most profound eras of change in human history. Our children, for the most part, are just not prepared for the new reality. The gap is widening. And we know it.

Parents see the chaos, the economic uncertainty, the stress and the complexity in the world, and know deep down that the traditional three “R’s” — reading, writing, and arithmetic — are necessary, but not enough.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

The following grid estimates the effect of educational decision-making on a child’s education. Income and future lifestyle can be severely affected by poor choices. When a child has the capacity and talent for a higher level of educational goal-setting and achievement, this needs to be developed appropriately.

What ways can we plan for our Child’s education? Consider using both the traditional Registered Educational Savings Plan (RESP) and the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) as an educational savings vehicle. A TFSA offers parents another tax-efficient method to provide for education planning.

Using the TFSA for Educational Planning

Canadian residents age 18 or older can contribute up to a TFSA.

TFSA Contribution Limits

  • 2009 to 2012: $5,000
  • 2013 and 2014: $5,500
  • 2015: $10,000
  • 2016 to 2018: $5,500
  • 2019 to 2022: $6,000

Contributions are not deductible from your taxable income. You can add any unused contributions of your annual limit, cumulative back to 2009.

Using the RESP for Educational Planning

  • You can save for a child’s education using the RESP. The Government of Canada will also help you save money through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).
  • Your advisor can help you understand what RESP options is available to you in your province.

Using Mutual Funds in your Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

Mutual Funds allow the investor the same access to securities as the institutional investor—access to stocks and bonds from many different companies. Moreover, mutual fund investments can gain the tax-advantaged benefits if they are registered in one or more of several savings plans offered by the Canadian government.

Mutual funds area great way to diversify your Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). You can start investing in mutual funds for your child’s education long before he or she reaches college or university age. Small monthly investments can add up over time to cover all or part of the following costs: tuition, books, accommodation, a cafeteria food plan or weekly groceries, a car payment plus insurance and gas or public transportation, furniture, a telephone, and of course spending money.

The Canda Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The bonus of the RESP is that the government actually grants you a percentage of your contribution. Thus both your contribution and the government’s grant are invested in the RESP. The added benefit of reinvesting the 20% government grant 1 automatically in the mutual fund creates, even more, potential compounding. The RESP will grow tax-deferred until your student needs it. You can diversify among many types of funds which invest in companies of several international countries. For CESG information click here.

Mutual funds can enjoy tax deferral in the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). The TFSA is a great investment if you are a member of a pension plan and have minimal if any, room to invest in your RRSP due to a high pension adjustment (PA) factor.

Educational Savings Use You can also supplement RESP savings through the TFSA. After-tax investments grow tax-deferred and there is no taxation on withdrawal. This makes the TFSA versatile for deferring investment taxation, plus avoid taxation upon withdrawing monies for numerous uses. However, the TFSA will not offer the benefit of the CESG.

1 Check here for the limit on the CESG.

Source: CRA

What are my Retirement Income Options?

Retirement Income Options are strategies that provide you with a retirement income paycheque from the funds saved during your working years.

  • Registered Retirement Income Funds The most common retirement income option is a retirement income fund (RRIF). It is like a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) in reverse. It has the same tax-deferred growth, flexibility and choices you had in your RRSP, with the added benefit of being able to withdraw a retirement income and have the flexibility to determine the amount of income you withdraw each year (where a minimum annual amount is determined by a federal government schedule).

When you need to begin receiving income, or at the latest by December 31st of the year you turn 71, you must convert your RRSP to a RRIF. A RRIF is designed to provide you with income while keeping the assets retained in your RIFF tax-deferred.

  • What are the types of Locked-in Retirement Savings Plans (LRSPs)? Locked-in RSPs originate from Registered Pension Plans (RPPs) which are plans where funds are set aside by an employer, and/or employee, to provide a pension when the employee retires.

If you are a member of a fully vested Registered Pension Plan (RPP), once employment is terminated, the proceeds of your RPP will be considered ‘locked-in’ and must be transferred into certain ‘Locked-in Plans’ which include the following Locked-in RSPs and Locked-in Retirement Income Options:

  • LIRAs and LRSPs Locked-in Retirement Accounts (LIRAs) and Locked-in RSPs (LRSPs) are registered retirement savings plans which are established by the transfer of locked-in pension fund assets from a Registered Pension Plan (RPP) or another locked-in retirement savings or income plan (such as a LIRA, LRSP, Life Income Fund (LIF), Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRIF) or Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (LRIF).

Tax on the interest you earn in these plans is deferred until you withdraw the funds, and are only accessible prior to retirement age under certain conditions. Upon reaching retirement age (most are at 55), you can transfer the plan to one or more eligible Retirement Income Options available for a regular RSP.

LIRAs and LRSPs must be converted to a Retirement Income Option such as an Life Income Fund (LIF), Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (LRIF), or a Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRIF) before December 31st of the year you turn 71.

  • Life Income Funds (LIFs) Life income funds are purchased with a Locked-in RRSP (LRSP). You are required to roll over your LRSP assets into an annuity (Life Annuity in some provinces) or a Life Income Fund (LIF) by the end of the year you turn 71. You will have the ability to withdraw an income and you maintain the flexibility and choices you need within prescribed limits similar to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF). However, the minimum and maximum withdrawal schedule for a LIF is calculated differently and changes each year.
  •  Locked-in Retirement Income Funds (LRIFs) Locked-in Retirement Income Funds are purchased with a Registered Pension Plan (RPP) or a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA).

A LRIF is different from a Life Income Fund (LIF). The maximum payments are based on the investment returns, not your age or current interest rates. And there is no requirement to purchase an annuity at age 80. LRIFs are only available in certain provinces.