You can use the money to pay for post-secondary education expenses like
Residence fees or rent
Equipment like a computer or lab supplies.
Full-time students have a limit of $5,000 on withdrawals of government grants and bonds and investment income for the first 13 weeks of study. After that, they can request their available amount without limit. “Full-time study” means a course of study that lasts at least 3 weeks in a row, with at least 10 hours of instruction or work each week.
Part-time students are limited to $2,500 for the initial 13 week period of study. “Part-time study” means a post-secondary level educational program that lasts at least 3 weeks in a row. It also requires that the student spend 12 hours or more each month on courses in the program. The student has to be at least 16 years old. After that, they can request their available amount without limit. This changes if the student takes a break and doesn’t re-enroll in a program for 12 months. Then, the original withdrawal limit is put in place again.
It’s never too late to open an RESP. The CESG contributes up to $500 each year for each child based on how much you contribute each year. The CESG pays out until the end of the year the child turns 17. Special conditions apply if the child is 16 or 17 years old.
You receive the full amount of the grant if you contribute $2,500 each year. If you don’t contribute enough to receive the full amount, you can contribute more money the following year. The CESG contributes up to $1,000 each year to make up for the “missed” grant from previous years.
Example: Susie opened an RESP account for her daughter when she was 3 years old. Since she didn’t open the RESP when her daughter was born, Susie has “missed” annual government grants that her daughter may have been eligible for.
If Susie can contribute $5,000 this year, she’ll receive $1,000 in CESG money. That’s to cover the money missed from the previous year. Susie contributes $5,000 for the next 3 years and gets $3,000 from the CESG. Now, she’s caught up for the 3 years her daughter didn’t have an RESP. After that, Susie can contribute $2,500 each year and get $500 in CESG money.
Age of Susie’s daughter
Susie’s contribution each year
CESG amount each year
(Susie opens the RESP)
You can contribute to your RESP by making lump sum deposits or a regular investment plan with automated payments.
To withdraw funds from your RESP account, you’ll need to meet with your advisor. They’ll let you know about the types of withdrawals you can make based on your needs. They’ll also work with you to complete the withdrawal form.
Don't forget to bring the student’s proof of enrolment to your appointment.
If you have an individual plan, you can name another beneficiary or child. But the grants and bonds may have to be returned to the government.
If you have a family plan, earnings can be shared among the children. The CESG can be used by any beneficiary named in the RESP, to a maximum of $7,200 per child. The Canada Learning Bond can’t be shared among beneficiaries.
Joe and Lorna are both the listed beneficiaries on a family plan RESP. Joe has accumulated $5,500 in CESG money from the government. Joe decided not to get a post-secondary education and won’t be using the money in the RESP. Lorna plans to go to university after she graduates from high school. She can use part of the money that Joe received from the CESG because they’re part of a family plan. Lorna, who has accumulated $3,000, can only use $4,200 of Joe's CESG money. That’s because each child can only receive a lifetime maximum of $7,200 of CESG money. Their parents might have to pay the remaining $1,300 of the CESG back to the government.
If no one in the plan goes to a post-secondary school
If no beneficiary chooses higher education, you may be able to transfer funds from the RESP to your RRSP. You can transfer up to $50,000 tax-free following these conditions:
The RESP has been in effect for at least 10 years
All RESP beneficiaries are at least 21 and not currently enrolled in post-secondary education
You’re a Canadian resident
In addition, normal RRSP contribution limits apply. If you don’t have enough RRSP contribution room, you may be able to withdraw plan earnings. Some restrictions and additional taxes may apply.
There aren’t any tax implications when opening an RESP or when you take contributions out of an RESP. When you take funds from the RESP as an Education Assistance Payment (EAP), the investment income and grants are considered taxable income for your child. Your child will need to make sure they claim this amount as part of their taxes that year.
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