Money & Career

Help your child pay for school

Graham McWaters, the co-author of The Canadian Student Financial Survival Guide, says the trick to saving for post-secondary education is “early, easy and with advice.”

Do set realistic goals – be aware that last year, the average university undergrad paid $4,347 in tuition fees alone – and seek advice from a financial professional to help choose the best type of education-savings plan.

Do begin saving as early as possible through a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and contribute the most you can. RESPs are flexible and have tax benefits, and the federal government contributes up to $500 annually.

Do make it as simple as possible to contribute to a plan. “You want something automatic so you don’t think about how much to put in every month,” says McWaters. “Make the process easy.”

Don’t limit yourself to one type of funding. Beyond RESPs, there are investment loans and home equity loans; you may even qualify for a Canada Learning Bond, a federal grant for “modest-income families” to begin saving.

Don’t do it alone. Encourage your child to contribute through savings from summer jobs and to take advantage of the range of available scholarships. McWaters recommends checking www.scholarshipscanada.com. “You don’t have to be an ‘A’ student. It could be because you’re artistic or a good athlete.”

Don’t overextend yourself financially by taking on too much education-related debt.