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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my child doesn’t continue his/her education after high school?

If a child does not continue his or her education soon after high school, the RESP can remain open for up to 36 years and can be used later if the child eventually goes on to post-secondary education.

If your child’s RESP is closed:

  • Contributions are returned to you;
  • The Canada Learning Bond must be returned to the Government of Canada; and
  • The Canada Education Savings Grant can be shared with a brother or sister if he or she has Grant room available—otherwise, the Grant must be returned to the Government of Canada.

Do I have to have a bank account to set up an RESP?

Parents don't have to have a bank account to set up and RESP and make an applicaiton for the Canada Learning Bond. If they want to make thier own financial contributions to the RESP and would like automatic contributions the bank would require a voided cheque from their bank account.

How does a financial institution pay out RESP funds when the child is ready to go to school?

The RESP is made up of two parts:

  • the family's own contributions; and
  • the government's contributions (the Canada Learning Bond and Canada Education Savings Grants) and any income generated in the account.

Once a child is enrolled in a qualifying educational program, the RESP's subscriber (the person who opened the RESP - typically the parent) can withdraw any family contributions in the RESP tax-free and without impacting any grants they received. The subscriber can also ask that the child be issued an Educational Assistance Payment (from the government's contributions and income in the account). The subscriber will be asked to provide proof of the child's enrollment in a qualifying program. Note: Some RESP providers restrict when subscribers can request payments and the type of educational programs that qualify.

How and when can a parent get their contributions out of an RESP?

Families can withdraw their own contributions from an RESP at any time, but any Canada Education Savings Grant grants that matched those contributions will be returned to the government. The Canada Learning Bond is not affected by a withdrawal. Note: While some RESPs charge no fees, others charge enrolment fees that are deducted from a family's contributions (and are paid back in part or in full for the child's education). A family that withdraws early from a plan with enrolment fees may not get all of their contributions back.

What if a family is not eligible for the CLB now, but was eligible a couple of years ago?

A child's entitlement to the Canada Learning Bond is tracked and is paid out retroactively once an RESP is opened. If a family is not eligible now, but has been in the past - or may be in the future - then they should open an RESP and apply for the Canada Learning Bond.

What if someone already has an RESP set up for thier child but doesn't know if they're getting the CLB?

If the family meets the eligibility criteria for the Canada Learning Bond, ask them to check their RESP account statement. It should show what grants the family is receiving. If it doesn't look like the family is receiving all the grants they should, or if the family doesn't have a statement, encourage them to contact their provider or call the Canada Education Savings Program Hotline at 888-276-3624 to check their account.

I understand that I need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) for myself and my child in order to set up an RESP. How do I get a SIN?

You can get a SIN for yourself or for your child by gathering all the required original proof of identity documents and taking them to the nearest Service Canada office. More information about the documents required to apply for a SIN.

If you are a new parent, the easiest way to get a SIN for your child is through the new online birth registration service. It allows new parents to register their child with the BC Vital Statistics Agency as well as apply for the baby's first birth certificate, enrol the baby in the Medical Services Plan for B.C. Residents, apply for Canada Child Benefits, and apply for the baby's Social Insurance Number.