For most Canadian high schoolers, graduation is only the first completed path in the road to a well-rounded education. For many students, the most difficult task lies ahead in choosing the right university for their post-secondary studies. Acceptance to a university is not guaranteed and it can be very expensive, depending on which school they choose.
Students must be prepared to pay oftentimes hefty tuition fees, which vary from school to school, and even program to program.
Of course there is financial aid available to assist students and their families with these costs, including student loans – which you do have to pay back – or scholarships, bursaries and grants which you do not.
Both the federal government and the provincial or territorial governments have programs that provide low-cost loans, grants and scholarships for students. You can get information from the institution you plan to attend or by visiting the National Student Loans Service Centre.
The costs of pursuing education beyond high school can add up, but for Canadians, there is a savings tool that is important to consider. Registered Education Savings Plans or RESPs are tax-sheltered savings vehicles that can help to offset a child’s future education costs and are offered through leading providers like Children’s Education Funds (CEFI). Anyone can open an RESP for a child: parents, grandparents, guardians, relatives and even friends.
When you open an RESP for a child, the Government of Canada will help by adding funds to the RESP through programs that encourage people to save. These programs are called the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond.
CEFI offers three types of RESP to choose from: the Self-Initiated Option Plan, which is designed for investors who are seeking a flexible, individual RESP option; the Achievers Plan for committed investors who are seeking a pooled plan; or the Group Option Plan, which is CEFI’s most popular plan and is designed for investors who value protection of principal and are disciplined, committed savers. In fact, the latter plan has paid out the highest scholarships to Canadian students 21 years in a row.*
Saving for post-secondary education through an RESP is best when started early, but can be opened at anytime.
And it is never too late to fulfill your dreams.
For non-traditional students, such as adults looking to further their post-secondary education, it may be difficult to go back to school full time and also maintain a career. To balance both, many institutions offer part-time and distance education courses geared toward working adults, so they can study and work at the same time.
It’s important to note that each school will have its own deadlines and rules for admission. Some run on a three-semester basis and accept students at the beginning of each semester, while others run on a yearly basis, with deadlines to apply in early spring.
Students can simply contact the admissions department at their school of interest for more information or by visiting the school’s website.
Whether students want a school with a renown athletics department, innovative research or specific programs, Canadian universities do have a lot to offer. Students just need to remember the importance of saving early, and knowing where to look.
*CEFI has compared its Scholarship payments for the Group Option Plan to those of other Group Scholarship Plans through publicly available financial statements and prospectus documents at www.sedar.com . On the basis of this comparison CEFI has determined that its Group Option Plan has paid the highest Scholarship payments per unit to beneficiaries from 1997 to 2017 inclusive.