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Alberta parents among most proactive in Canada when saving for education

Sep 5, 2017

Alberta parents are among the most likely in Canada to say saving for their child’s education is important (88%), according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Knowledge First Financial. Despite the cancellation of the Alberta Centennial Education Savings (ACES) grant in 2015, Albertans were the most likely in Canada to report taking advantage of a provincial grant within a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) at 16%.
“Alberta parents are demonstrating a lot of enthusiasm towards saving for their child’s education and this is very positive in an economy that has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over the past few years,” said Lesley-Anne Scorgie, personal finance expert and bestselling author.  “I would encourage Alberta parents to continue making RESPs a priority despite the cancellation of ACES and work closely with their RESP specialist to ensure they’re taking full advantage of the federal grants.”
Albertans are also among the most likely to say the availability of government grants motivated them to get started on saving for education earlier than they would have otherwise (39%), and motivated them to save more than they would have otherwise (30%). However, one in four Alberta parents now say the absence of a provincial RESP grant makes them less likely to save for their children’s education.
“Albertans are among the most proactive in Canada when it comes to saving for their children’s education,” said George Hopkinson, President & CEO, Knowledge First Financial Inc. “The results of our poll show Albertans to be conscious and proactive savers, but many still aren’t taking advantage of all the savings and grant opportunities available to them.”
One in four Albertans report they began saving for their children’s education when their child was born, and an additional 18% report starting before the child’s fourth birthday. They were also among the most likely to report paying off consumer debt (93%) and paying down their mortgage faster to be important (76%), establishing a pattern of financial responsibility across the province.
Despite the encouraging results in Alberta, there is still some room for improvement. 47% of parents in the province report they have not taken advantage of any government grants within a RESP. These families are missing out on available programs such as the Canada Education Savings Grant, which provides a 20% match on contributions up to $500 per year ($7,200 lifetime) when saving for education with an RESP.
When parents of children aged 14-22 were asked to reflect on their experience saving for post-secondary education, many said they would go back and save more each month (41%) or start saving when their children were younger (35%). To fill in the gaps and pay for education, 39% of Alberta families say they will rely on government student loans, 19% will rely on loans from a bank or credit union, and 16% will draw on a home equity line of credit.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 3 and 15, 2017, on behalf of Knowledge First Financial. For this survey, a sample of 1,919 Canadian parents from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian parents been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
About Knowledge First Financial
Canadian families have relied on education savings plans offered by Knowledge First Financial for more than 50 years. Today, the company manages more than $3.72 billion in assets on behalf of more than 250,000 customers. Since 1965, payments from the plans have reached $3.9 billion and the Knowledge First Foundation has further enhanced Education Assistance Payments to students by nearly $50 million.
Knowledge First Financial Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Foundation and is the investment fund manager, administrator and distributor of Registered Education Savings Plans. Knowledge First Foundation is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation with no share capital. The Foundation is therefore able to reinvest excess revenues in initiatives that support student success.