Saving for your child’s education is probably one of your priorities along with saving for other short and long term goals. That’s why it’s important to make sure every dollar you put towards your child’s post-secondary education savings goes as far as possible.

The cost of education

Today, Canadian students pay more than $16,000 on average for one year of full-time post-secondary education. That puts a four-year program over $66,000. The cost will likely be higher by the time your child is ready for college or university.

The benefit of education

Post-secondary education opens minds—and doors. It can also have a financial payoff. In fact, Canadian college and university graduates earn about 40% more than non-graduates, and they have enjoyed more job security during periods of recession.

Three strategies to help you accumulate education savings for your child:

1. Apply for the Canada Education Savings Grant

When you contribute $2,500 every year to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), you’ll receive the annual Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). You can accumulate up to $7,200 in CESGs for your child. In addition, your CESG money can grow alongside your own, giving a boost to your education savings.

2. Save the tax

Contribute up to $50,000 per child to an RESP, or up to your personal limit in a Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA), and you’ll enjoy tax-free growth as long as your money stays in the registered account. Because you don’t have to pay tax every year on capital gains, dividends and interest income, more of your money keeps growing towards your goal.

When your child withdraws money from an RESP to pay for education, he or she pays tax—but likely at a lower tax rate than yours. There is no tax on withdrawals from a TFSA.

3. Diversify

Investing in a diversified portfolio lets you choose solutions that provide growth potential while managing risk—these may include mutual funds and segregated funds. You can also match your portfolio to your time horizon (the time before your child starts school) and tolerance for risk. As your child gets older, you can adjust your investments based on market activity and to mitigate risk.

To ensure that you’re making the most of the opportunities to grow your child’s post-secondary education savings, you may want to speak to an advisor. They can help you combine these strategies and maximize your child’s education savings and their potential for success.

Read more on this topic:

Government of Canada – Cost of post-secondary education

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – Education at a Glance 2011

Government of Canada - Information about Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)

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