When learning about the lingo of RESP’s you will find some useful information within this article that will catch your attention, as most people who invest in their children do so, because they understand the need to help in the future. Although, they most likely will not understand the ins and outs of the program that they have been investing into for the future. We at Henley Financial & Wealth Management are always here to help you understand the process.  Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Let’s begin…

The CESG contribution limit is different than the RESP limit. The maximum annual amount of Basic CESG (Canada Education Savings Grant) that can be paid in any year was increased to $500 from $400 (and to $1,000 from $800 if there is unused grant room from previous years). The lifetime CESG for each child is still $7,200.

You can create a family plan or an individual plan. If you have one child, and intend to have more children, a family plan can be an attractive option. You can name one or more children as beneficiaries (the child using the funds in the future), and add or change beneficiaries at any time. If one of your children decides not to attend a post-secondary institution, your other children can make use of the funds.

With a family plan, all beneficiaries must be related to you. They can include children, adopted children, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters. You cannot include an unrelated person in a family plan.

A portion of contributions to the plan must be allocated to each beneficiary, although not necessarily equally. For example you can allocate a greater percentage to an older child who becomes a beneficiary a few years before university to quickly build education savings for that child. Meanwhile, younger children could be allocated less because there is plenty of time until they attend college or university. Contributions for each beneficiary can be made until the beneficiary turns 31.

The CESG is paid into the family RESP in the name of each beneficiary until that beneficiary turns 18. Most RESP’s, family or individual must be collapsed on or before the last day of their 35th year of existence. This should provide enough time to meet education savings needs of most families, including those with children of substantially different ages.

An important thing to know regarding RESP and CESG…

In the RESP world, $7,200 is an important number.  It’s the total amount of RESP grant money that can be paid to any one child.  This means that once a child has received $7,200 of grants – any future contributions will not receive any grant money. Meaning if there is a $50,000 maximum contribution to a RESP, only $36,000 of that RESP contribution will be credited with the 20% ($7,200) CESG.

This rule also applies to the RESP withdrawal phase. When you are making payments to a student – that child cannot receive more than $7,200 worth of grants.  Any excess amount of grants paid to a child will have to be returned to the government.

All withdrawals of contributions from an RESP account can be sent to either you (subscriber) or the student (beneficiary).  If you request a withdrawal of accumulated income in the form of an EAP (educational assistance payment), the money has to be sent to the student.

Specify if the withdrawal is to be from contributions, non-contributions or both

There are two parts to an RESP account:

  1. Contribution amount.  This is the total amount of all your contributions to the account.
  2. Accumulated Income.  This is all the money in the RESP, which are not contributions.  RESP grants, capital gains, interest payments, dividends are all included in the Accumulated Income portion.

Example of contribution amount and accumulated income amount 

Let’s say you contributed $2,400 per year for 15 years to an RESP account. 20% grants were paid on all the contributions and the investments have gone up in value.

  • Account is now worth $50,000.
  • Total contributions are $36,000 (15 x $2,400).
  • Accumulated income amount is $14,000 ($50,000 – $36,000)

You can make two types of withdrawals from an RESP account if your child is attending post secondary school:

  1. PSE (Post-Secondary Education Payment) is a withdrawal from the contribution amount.
  2. EAP (Educational Assistance Payment) is a withdrawal from the Accumulated income.

Some interesting facts about PSE and EAP:

  • PSE payments are not taxable income and there are no limits on withdrawals.
  • EAPs are taxable in the student’s hands.
  • There is no withholding tax on EAPs.
  • The financial institution at the end of the year will issue a T4A slip for any EAP made during the year.
  • There is a $5,000 limit for EAPs in the first 13 weeks of schooling.
  • When doing a withdrawal, you will have to specify how much of the money will be coming from contributions and how much from accumulated income.

So you now have some of the ins and outs of making contributions and withdrawals to and from an RESP. The rules can be confusing and complicated so when in doubt, seek the help of a financial advisor to guide you through your options.

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