Program Eligibility for your RESP
A portion of the Education Assistance Payment (EAP) your student will receive is made up of education grants collected from the government on your behalf since the start of your RESP. The government of Canada wants to ensure that students are using these grants for the acceptable types of post-secondary programs. Fortunately, the list is long on the programs that qualify. It’s still a good idea to do a bit of homework in advance of choosing a post-secondary program to make sure it is eligible.
Under the Income Tax Act, a qualified post-secondary program must be:
- Minimum three consecutive weeks duration
- 10 hours of instruction per week
- Full or part-time
- Recognized institution and program
A recognized institution is one that qualifies as a post-secondary educational institution under the Income Tax Act and is acceptable to Knowledge First Foundation. In addition to universities and colleges, recognized institutions include technical institutes, religious colleges and private post-secondary institutions registered under the “Private Vocational Schools Act.”
View our current list of recognized post-secondary institutions. Contact us if the name of the post-secondary institution is not included on this list, as we can further investigate for you.
Plan Specific Eligibility
For individual RESPs, such as our Flex First Plan and our Family Single Student plan, there are no further program qualifications beyond what is required under the Income Tax Act. That is one of the key benefits of having an individual plan. With an individual plan, you can also choose the amount and timing of your EAPs.
With the Family Group plan, the Subscriber vote in 2014 increased the qualifications to include both full and part-time programs, as well as repeat school years. This was a very positive change to the plan, as student study patterns have changed significantly over the last decade to less traditional programs. For Family Group, a total of three EAPs are paid out to your student in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th calendar years following the year of maturity. Your student must receive their first EAP before turning 22. If it is unlikely your student will attend 3-4 years of post-secondary education, then transferring from the Family Group Plan to the Family Single Student Plan could be a good option. You can transfer before your Family Group Plan matures or before December 31st of the year your student turns 19, whichever comes first.
Plan Eligibility for Classic Plans
The Classic Plan is no longer sold but it is still fully serviced and supported by Knowledge First Financial. For Classic Plans, up to three EAPs are available for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th academic years of a recognized program. The student must be enrolled full time and receive the first EAP before turning 22. For Quebec Classic Plans, an EAP is available in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th academic years of a recognized CEGEP program or in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd academic year of a recognized 90-credit university program.
What if your student decides not to pursue a post-secondary education?
It’s important to know that an RESP can remain open for 35 years. That’s good news if your student has decided to postpone or prolong their post-secondary education and they are in an individual plan. But if your student is not going to pursue post-secondary studies in an eligible program or recognized institution, you have other options. You can transfer the plan to another student within the allowable timeframe or you can consider one of the other ways to withdraw funds from your plan. We are here to help you understand the different options.