Some people reading this article may be asking themselves how many low income families read financial websites? I suspect some of them do. You can have a low family income for many reasons: divorce, single parenthood, disability, layoffs, if you start a family while still attending school, if you’re new to Canada, and the list goes on. These families want to ensure their children have a chance to attend post-secondary education, too. And the Canadian federal government is willing to provide a small amount to help it happen. Any free money for education is good money. Low income families do have to apply for it however.
What is the Canada Learning Bond?
The federal government will deposit $500 into a RESP set up for a child by the child’s parents. They will also pay $25 to help defray any costs. (For example, a low income single parent family might have to pay for a babysitter while completing the application for a RESP.)
Each year the family is low income, the government will deposit another $100 into the RESP until the child turns 15. This makes the maximum government contribution $2000.
If the family has more than one child, each child qualifies. So each child who meets the rules gets the $500 bond and the annual $100 bonds deposited into their RESP.
What Does It Cost the Parents?
Parents do not have to contribute any of their own money to the RESP to get the Canada Learning Bond.
Most banks and many credit unions and trust companies offer no-fee RESPs. There is no charge, for example, to have a RESP at BMO if the money is invested in the daily interest savings account or in GICs.
Which Children Qualify?
The child has to be born after December 31, 2003. (Some people like me think this isn’t very fair. If it bothers you, please write your MP and complain.)
Who Decides If a Family is Low Income?
The Canada Learning Bond is paid to families who qualify for the National Child Benefit Supplement. For details, see the Service Canada page.
Why This Bond is a Great Idea
Everyone deserves a chance to continue their education. While this Bond is not a huge amount of money it can help. Seeing a 4-digit amount saved for education can also encourage further saving.
Our school sends home a notice about this bond each year. For many families who attend this school it’s valuable and important information. I hope other schools do the same.
Because the government only provides the money to those who apply for it, it’s important to get the word out to those who can benefit from it. If you know someone who might be eligible for this bond, please send them the link to the Service Canada website given in the Related Reading section.
Further information on the Canada Learning Bond on the Service Canada website at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/goc/clb.shtml
Please share your experiences with the Canada Learning Bond with a comment.