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How RESPs and grants work

January 24, 2024

How RESP grants work


To be eligible for a basic federal grant, your RESP contribution must be made by December 31 of the year the child turns 17. Depending on your financial situation and the child's province of residence, you may be eligible for additional amounts.


You can contribute to an RESP up until the end of the year the child turns 17. But to qualify for a grant during the last 2 years of this period, you need to meet at least one of the following conditions by December 31 of the year the child turns 15:

  • Have contributed $2,000 or more to the child's RESP (without withdrawing it)
  • Have contributed at least $100 per year to the child's RESP for at least 4 years (without withdrawing it)

If the child doesn't have an RESP by the time they reach high school, it's a good idea to open one before the end of the year they turn 15..

Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The basic grant is equal to 20% of what you contribute and is paid monthly into the child's RESP account. Depending on your family income, you might also receive a top-up of 10% to 20% on the first $500 of your annual contribution. The lifetime maximum per child is $7,200.

Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

This federal tax measure provides additional savings support to low-income families. The CLB provides $500 when an RESP is opened, whether anyone makes contributions or not, and then makes annual payments of $100 until the child turns 15, up to a maximum of $2,000.

Provincial RESP grants

The Québec education savings incentive (QESI) matches contributions by at least 10%. As with the federal program, depending on your family income, you may also receive a top-up of 10% or 20% on the first $500 in annual contributions. The lifetime maximum per child is $3,600. Saskatchewan offers grants similar to those in Quebec.

Ontario, however, doesn't currently offer RESP grants .

The RESP lifetime maximum and getting the most out of  grants

You can contribute up to $50,000 to each child's RESP. However, the maximum value of grants you receive per child is capped at $36,000. If you contribute $2,500 per year ($208.33 per month), you'll reach this amount by the end of the year the child turns 15.

RESP calculator for maximizing grants

If you contribute to an RESP early on, the money you invest (including grants and investment income) can give you quite the return! By the time graduation rolls around, the amount you've saved may surprise you.

> Calculate the potential return on your RESP contributions

For example, if you live in Quebec and contribute $100 a month starting on your child's second birthday, you'll have saved $33,916 by the end of their high school studies.[1] But if you contribute from the time they're born, you'll have saved $39,622. That's almost $6,000 more, including $3,600 in grants and investment income. If you're a new parent welcoming a new child into your life, it's a good idea to take a look at what you can afford to save.

How to make up for missed RESP contributions

As long as your child hasn't reached the age limit, it's never too late to contribute. While to get the maximum grant amount, your usual annual contribution should be $2,500, you can contribute up to $2,500 more to catch up on missed grant money from previous years. So if you open an RESP by the year the child turns 10, you could double up your contributions and save $5,000 per year.


Planning RESP withdrawals

Money in an RESP can be divided into 2 parts:

The grants and investment earnings  belong to the beneficiary. The child must be enrolled in an eligible post-secondary program (including full-time or part-time college programs, subject to certain conditions) to receive EAPs. The money can be used to cover any kind of expense, such as tuition, housing, transportation and groceries. The student doesn't need to submit receipts or supporting documents.

> See how you can make smart RESP withdrawals

RESP contributions

The money you contributed to an RESP belong to you, and you're not taxed on withdrawals. You could give this money to the student without any tax impact. You could also keep it for yourself or reinvest it in your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), tax-free savings account (TFSA), tax-free first home savings account (FHSA), if you qualify, or another child's RESP.

By opening an RESP  and following the advice above, you can help a child you care about pursue their studies and find the career of their dreams. Speak to your advisor about setting up investment and payout strategies that meet your needs.

Registered education savings plans (RESP) are very popular, in particular because the federal government matches contributions by at least 20%. Some provinces also offer grants for an additional top-up. This is the case in Quebec, which matches contributions by at least 30%. A very good deal, to say the least! If you're planning to help a child through school and you want to learn how to get the most out of your RESP contributions, read on!

1. Monthly investment in a balanced portfolio with a 3.30% annual return until the child turns 17. The return rate is based on the Projection Assumption Guidelines of the Institut québecois de planification financière (IQPF – Quebec's financial planning institute) for the current year. Grants based on all contributions: 20% for the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and 10% for the Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI).

Based on the average gross personal income in Quebec, which is $49,192, and a net family income over $95,259.