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Financial assistance for students from low-income families

March 21, 2024

Want to save for your child’s education with a registered education savings plan (RESP)? And wondering how you can do that on a modest income? The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) allows you to put up to $2,000 aside for your children’s postsecondary education. Follow the guide.

Angela Iermieri, a financial planner at Desjardins, gives an overview of this federal educational grant program.

Who is eligible for the Canada Learning Bond?

If your family net income is lower than the threshold determined by the government, your child can receive the CLB if they:

  • Were born on or after January 1, 2004
  • Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Are named in an RESP

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 can set up their own RESP to receive the CLB.

How it work?

If your child is eligible for the CLB, the Government of Canada will contribute up to $2,000 to their RESP.

The payments will be made as follows:

  • $500 for the first year they’re eligible and an additional $25 to cover the fees to open the RESP account
  • $100 for each additional year of eligibility, up to age 15

The good news is that you don't have to contribute to your child's RESP to apply for the CLB. If your child is eligible, the government will pay the allotted amount in their RESP.

If your child is not eligible when you open their RESP but becomes eligible later on, they will be able to receive the CLB.

This grant has no impact on other benefits you receive from the Government of Canada.

What are the advantages of an RESP?

An RESP helps you:

  • Put money aside for your child’s post-secondary education
  • Save up for their education tax-free
  • Get generous government grants on your contributions:
    • Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), at a minimum rate of 20% of your contributions and up to a lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child
    • Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI),* at a minimum rate of 10% of your contributions and a lifetime maximum of $3,600 per child
    • and, if eligible, the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) which can be up to a lifetime maximum of $2,000 per child and you don't have to make any contributions to receive it

The money from an RESP can be used to cover your child's expenses in a full- or part-time program offered by a qualifying postsecondary educational institution, like a CEGEP, college, trade school or university.

If your child doesn’t pursue a postsecondary education, they will not be able to use these grants. The CLB will have to be paid back to the Canadian government, while the CESG and QESI could be transferred to a sibling. If not, these grants will also have to be repaid.

To make things more concrete, you can use the Education Savings Calculator to quickly find out how much you could save for your children's education based on the amount invested and the grants received.

* Saskatchewan offers grants similar to those in Quebec. Ontario, however, doesn't currently offer additional grants for RESPs.