Improving the take up of the BC training and Education Savings Grant

BC’s 2015 budget reminded us, again, of the commitment made in the 2013 Budget regarding the BC Training and Education Savings Grant. The BC training and Education Savings Grant is a $1,200 lump sum contribution to a child’s RESP in the year they turn 6.

To qualify for this lump sum payment:

  1. The child must be born on or after January 1, 2007
  2. The child must have an RESP
  3. The child must be a resident of BC when the grant application is made
  4. The child must be enrolled in an educational program
  5. And the application must be made between the child’s 6th and 7th birthdays

Many kids of low income families are likely missing out on this very important grant because their parent are unaware of it and because they don’t have an RESP.

BC has this penchant for opt-in programs, which is quite unfortunate, especially when compared to the process for getting federal matching funds. The RESP system for the federal top-up grant is quite seamless. The bank remits information of your contributions to the federal government and between 30-60 days later the top up is deposited in the RESP provided you qualify. No need for the parents to submit an application directly and it is unfortunate that the BC government can’t simply do something similar for their grant. This would certainly ensure 100% take up rates for those when meet the qualifications. It is disappointing that the BC government is not more progressive is this area.

However, the fact that the child must have an RESP provides a barrier to many families to get this funding. And this is where, once again, the federal government comes into play. The federal government offers the Canada Learning Bond. If you receive the National Child Benefit Supplement you qualify for it. It is a total of $2000 in funding for a child’s RESP and no requirement to put in of your own money into the RESP. That money is allocated as follows

  • $25 to help cover the cost of opening an RESP
  • $500 to add to the RESP when it is opened
  • And $100 each year until the child turns 15

So go forth and spread the word and let’s work to get this valuable money into the hands of those that need it most, even if the BC government won’t help.

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5 thoughts on “Improving the take up of the BC training and Education Savings Grant

  1. Hi Lindsay,

    Great article! You’ll be happy to know that there is an online RESP application that helps families start a no-cost, no-minimum contribution RESP and apply for the Canada Learning Bond. You can learn more about this program at http://www.SmartSAVER.org

  2. The provincial preference for opt-in programs should be obvious; it cuts the actual cost of the program, while not detracting from the publicity and vote-buying value. It probably helps that this government likely sees itself as the party of the middle-class (and above) who as determined boomer parents (and grandparents) are more likely to have established an RESP than the opposition voters, and also more likely to jump through the required hoops (possibly with the assistance of professional advisers).
    For a government, what could be better – a program to boast of on the hustings with an actual cost below the apparent cost, whose benefits are more likely to fall on your supporters than your opponents? The surprise is that we don’t have more of them!

  3. Obvious does not make for good public policy formulation and implementation. One should not need professional advisers to access public programs.

    • Yes, I agree that they are bad policy, and I wasn’t trying to defend them as policy. Instead, I was trying to provide an explanation of *why* we see such programs. Perhaps I erred in suggesting that “to a government they are attractive” – but to a political party that forms the government, these look like a win-win.
      Cheers,

      Dean

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