RESP Rules And Strategies For 2015

Here is a list of the best RESP articles on this site.  You can find out all the information you need about RESP accounts, contributions, and withdrawals.

General RESP rules – One page summary of RESP accounts and their rules.

RESP Withdrawal Kindle eBook

RESP Withdrawals

Questrade Democratic Pricing - 1 cent per share, $4.95 min / $9.95 max

RESP Accounts

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 audrey

We have 4 grandchildren – ages 10,7 and twins that are 3. We would like to start an RESP for each of them. Would it be better to get a family plan since I have no idea if all will go to higher learning? Can we start with just $500 each for them? How much would the govt portion be? Should they be in our name or the parents’ name? We would not want the RESP to go into our estate upon our death. Hope you can set me straight. Thanks.

2 Mike


It doesn’t matter if you have a family account or 4 individual accounts. You can transfer funds between the siblings quite easily in either case.

In general, having one account is simpler, and if there are annual account fees, it will be cheaper.

This post contains info about the contributions and grants

If you put the account in your name, then change your will to reflect the RESP account.

Alternatively, you can get the parents to set up an account but you will have no control over the account. They can cash it in anytime.

3 Daniel

Is the book available in stores?

4 Marina Bieler

I have 5 grandchildren in 2 families, 2 have RESPs with the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation with year end closing balances of $24,080 and $13,352. I contribute $2000 to each annually. I need to make a move for the 4 and 3 year olds; the baby can perhaps wait a bit. Should I switch to a family plan? Will I lose any principal doing so? Am I better off taking the whole package to the Bank (RBCDom has my investment accounts) who don’t charge fees? They claim they could make a higher rate of return than the conservative CSTF. Also, the CSTF gives the subscriber (or estate) his principal back when the child is ready for college, which could then be allocated amongst the other children and their plans as needed. I would be willing to put another $3-4000 (tight) into RESPs. I am 73 though and want to also make sure that my estate honours these commitments.
Thanks for your help!
Marina Bieler

5 Mike Holman


The CST RESPs are locked in – there are major penalties for moving them to another company. You are likely better off just leaving them as they are.

For the younger kids – don’t use CST for their RESPs. The bank is a fine choice.

If you want your estate to honour your wishes, you have to put it in your will.

6 sherry ryan

PLEASE HELP: my mother opened an resp for my daughter when she was 2 years old she put it in my name untill she was of age it was a goverment sponsered resp in wich they match the amount dollar for dollar. Problem -my mother was killed when hit by a car in 1992. I do not have the resp papers she always kept them i do not even know who the bank was it was with. my aunt cleaned her apartment and claims she did not find the papers? I have no idea where to look for this resp my daughter is now 24 has done a year and a half of collage with osap and cannot contiune without paying bk a certain amount of her osap? i have no idea how to find her resp what do we do? She would really like to put her resp on her osap to get it payed . Please where do i look to find it i have tryed everything?

7 Dawnelle

I have a 18 year old who has chosen not to return to school to continue his education. he is now onhis own and receiving a good wage. So against our wishes he has elected to collapse his RESP.
Is there a max time frame that that the RESP providers have to collapse the fund and issue payments. I submitted a letter requesting they collapse the RESP with signatures(as per instructions) and issue payments. This was over 5 weeks ago. Is this a normal time frame or should I seek help to get it moving

8 Mike Holman

@Dawnelle – It’s not up to the child to collapse the RESP – it’s up to the subscriber (owner of the account).

If you have concerns about the timing, you should contact your financial company.

9 Mike Holman


You can call the HRSDC RESP phone line 1888 276 3624 and ask them. They know all the contributions, grants and which financial institutions they occurred at. That should tell you which company the RESP was set up at.

They also have a record of withdrawals. It’s possible the RESP account was terminated as part of your Mother’s estate.

If you are not the subscriber of the account, you might have to get your daughter to phone.

10 aman singh

Should i open a RESP account in a bank or with a group RESP provider such as Heritage?

11 Mike Holman

@Aman – I prefer the bank RESP.


Hi Mike:

Are capital losses on the sale of a security within an RESP netted against the accumulated income earned in the plan or are they netted against your capital contributions. A representative of TD Waterhouse told me recently when I posed the question that it would be netted against my capital contributions. For some reason I am having a problem with accepting that answer. I thank you in advance for taking the time to answer this question.



13 Nazir

I have twin 6 yr olds and wanted to open an RESP for them for 2011 today with the maximum $5K to get the full 20% grant. The bank informed me that it is too late for 2011 since it is a weekend and the contribution will not be processed until the next business day (which is 2012). Is there any way for me to contribute the 2011 amount in 2012 and get the full grant ($1k)? Or do I basically lose out on 2011? What are my options, if any?
Thank you!

14 Mike Holman

@Nazir – It doesn’t matter. Just make the contribution for 2012. Then you can put another $5,000 in 2012 if you want to get another $1k grant.

You can carry over unused years.

15 Nazir

Thanks Mike. It was explained by a bank rep. that I could carry over one year of unused contribution room. This means I can contribute up to $10K in 2012 for both kids, however, I could only get the 20% grant for 2012 and not 2011. From your comment, I can actually get the $2K grant for contributing $10K in 2012? Just want to confirm.

Thanks again

16 Mike Holman

Yes, you can get $2k of grants in 2012.

That rep doesn’t know what they are talking about. Read this post for a better explanation of how the contribution room is carried over:

17 Nazir

Thanks Mike!

18 Lisa Harnett

I am trying to find out the annualized rate of return on all RESP fund by both group providers (ie. Heritage) and banks. Quite simply put, I want to know if the 6% Heritage claims I made on my son’s fund over the last 3 years is 1. accurate and 2. how it stacks up against the others. I’d be looking for 10 year rates as well. I find it incredulous that this stuff isn’t posted some where the same way mortgage rates are by financial institutions. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably would not have chosen Heritage in 2002 but at least it got us saving for his many years of university – he wants to be a paleotologist!

19 Mike Holman

@Lisa Mortgage rates are forward looking. You won’t find historical rates on the bank sites.

As for rate of returns – this is a surprisingly complicated topic. The best I can suggest is to phone up some other resp companies and ask them what the returns are.

Bank resps are not a single product like your group resp. To compare with the bank you would have to know what you would have invested in for the three/ten years and determine the return for that investment.

My advice is not to bother. Even if their returns aren’t any good, there isn’t anything you can do about it now.

20 Sue

Hi Mike
I have 3 resp accounts for my three grandaughters. What happens to the accounts if I die before they are old enough to withdraw the money?

I thought that the parent who also signed the application forms when I set up the accounts with td would take over, but now I’m unsure.

Is there a way to set up a benificiary on the accounts like you can do with an rrsp?

Thank you for all the great information on your website.

21 Mike Holman

@Sue. No, the parent will not take over the account.

If there is another subscriber (ie a spouse) on the account, they will take it over. Otherwise it has to be mentioned in the will – ie you have to indicate who should take over the account.

Otherwise, the account will go to the estate. It is possible to keep the account intact and transfer to a parent, but it will be up to the executor etc.

22 Jim

I have a step-child who is off to post-secondary in the fall, and there is an RESP that the biological parent set up (they are the subscriber). The biological parent doesn’t want the child to go to school, and is refusing to let the child use the RESP.

Can we legally force the biological parent to give the funds in the RESP to the child? Is there any recourse?

23 Mike Holman

@Jim – The subscriber (owner) of the account controls the money and they are under no obligation to give any of it to the student.

I would check with a lawyer however, since a divorce scenario could take priority, especially if the RESP was mentioned in their separation agreement.

24 Susan

How do I make sure that I get the goverment matching on my RESP contributions. Is it my responsibility or the Banks. I don’t see where that has happened.

25 patricia gregoire

My son set up an RESP for my grandson, my son died. The RESP was not known about or included in his Estate. The Executor of the Will, my Grandsons mother is not aware of the RESP, well we don’t believe she is. I want to know how/if we can take the account from being ITF for my grandson to him being the ‘owner’. We cannot approach his Mother if she must be involved, the situation is untenable. We know that if we bring up the RESP she will manipulate it somehow so that she will have access to the funds, yes she would do this. My Grandson is 19 when would he be able to administer the RESP himself? What are our options. Thank you

26 Mike Holman

Hi Patricia – I’m sorry that your son passed away.

It’s very unlikely you can do anything. If your son opened the account it would have been in his name and possibly joint with his wife. With his death the account should go to the estate or the joint owner if there is one.

If the daughter-in-law is the executor, she will likely name herself or another person to control the account.

27 Mattie

Hello. My husband and I set up a RESP for my nephew. he was accepted by a University. We recently had the grant and interest earned released to him. It is a small sum of $650. The investment monies are in my bank account. I was just informed by the mother that my nephew will not be attending school as he wants to deferr for a year. What do I do now? Will I be taxed or will he be taxed? Is there a way of getting the monies back into an RESP or some other vehicle until he needs the money? He is 18 now. What are the options? Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

28 Mike Holman

Hi Mattie.

As long as your nephew was enrolled at the time of the RESP withdrawal, then the non-contribution portion will be considered an EAP and will be taxed in the hands of your nephew for 2012. The fact that he decided later on not to go, doesn’t change anything.

So you can keep the money and do whatever you like with it.

29 Anne

Looking for advice… We have three children ages 7, 5 and 3. We have a family account RESP setup through Nesbitt Burns but need to switch advisors. We have no other affiliation with Nesbitt Burns and therefore are looking into transferring our account to one of the major banks. I have 3 questions: 1- should we be doing a family account as opposed to 3 individual accounts, given the age ranges of our children? 2- what are recommended monthly contribution amounts? and 3- any recommendations in terms of which bank to approach? We have ruled out BMO… By the way, great website – thanks!

30 Mike Holman
31 Brenda

I have been searching and searching to ascertain if there is still a cut-off age for which a child must commence post-secondary education in order to remain eligible for RESP educational support from a parent…

I have been able to find nothing!

My son is 28 and finally plans to return to school big time; universitity!

I need to know if he is still eligible for support from the RESP Family Plan I have been maintaining for my children.

Can anyone help…?

Many thanks

32 Mike Holman
33 Sarah

My husband and I have just set up an RESP for our daughter. My father-in-law has asked for the account numbers so he can make deposits to the RESP. I asked the bank and was told that no one other than my husband or myself can make contributions. Is this true? Do I need to get my father-in-law to give me the money first then I transfer it in? Seems incorrect to me…

34 Mike Holman

@Sarah – No, that is pretty standard. It has to do with anti-money laundering laws.

He will have to give the money to you first or alternatively set up his own RESP account and contribute directly to that.

35 bob

I had to give grant back because i withdrew from 2 financial institutions. What are the limits here?

36 KS

Hi Mike,

I have a question about the timing of contributions to an RESP plan. Does it run based on the calendar year?

For example, my daugther was born in July 2012. Can I contribute $2500 now in December 2012 and then another $2500 in January 2013 and get the full CESG for both years?

37 Mike Holman
38 Wally

Hey Mike

We have a relatively small RESP ($42,000 – $30,000 in contributions and the rest in grants and earnings) setup for our only daughter, currently in 1st year of university. When she started University this past fall we withdrew the max 5000 as an EAP. She is not working at the time but earned approx $4000 over the summer. I guess her income will be $9000 ($4000 summer job and $5000 EAP) and her tuition is approx $4500. I’ve justed passed the 13 week holding period and am wondering if I should withdrawl all or a portion of the available EAP (balance available to withdrawl $7,000 (42k-30k less 5k already taken out). Thinking of moving the money into a TFSA for her. Your thoughts?

39 Mike Holman

Hi Wally – sounds like a plan. My thoughts are here:

40 Cindy

Looking for a little help.
My son has used a portion of the RESP we set up for him. We still have a small amount of money left in it and he has been taking a course to upgrade in the evenings. Could we dip into his RESP to pay for this course? He is 20 yrs old and works full time but still lives at home.
Thanks for your help

41 Karen

Hi Mike,
What can you tell me about conversion of group RESP ? We were approached by our Heritage sales rep who recommended we do a conversion of our RESP plan into a “lump sum ” plan and a new annual plan. We are in our 13 th year of RESP contributions and our last contribution date is in 2017. She said this conversion will increase the potential value of our RESP without having to invest any additional funds. At least that was what both my husband and I were led to believe.
There is nothing about this in the prospectus and when we looked through the details on this plan adjustment we noticed that we would need to add 2 more annual contributions to gain an extra 8.75 units. In other words our last contribution date has been moved to 2019. In the end we decide to cancel this conversion plan.
I just want to know your thoughts on this.
Thanks for your help.

42 Mel

I have four sons. My wife and I deposited $3000 per year for 3 years into a joint RESP account for the boys. To date none have expressed interest in attending College. Three of my boys are following the Trades and are registered apprentices. Their school fees each year are avout $900 for the technical training the require. Are these fees legitimate for RESP withdrawls?

43 Mike Holman
44 Joanne

can you cancel and withdraw contributions made to an RESP?

45 Mike Holman

@Joanne – No.

46 Elli

Hello – my ex husband informed me he wants to open up an RESP account for our son (8 yrs) and wants me to sign some papers. Can i be a joint beneficiary on this account and will i need to make contributions as well?
Thank you for your time.

47 Mike Holman

@Elli – You can be a joint owner on the account if you want, however you don’t have to.

To open up an RESP account the financial institution needs the permission of the primary caregiver which is why he needs your sig. There shouldn’t be obligation to make payments.

Make sure the RESP is a not a group/pooled plan.

48 Jim

My wife and I have several RESP accounts for our grandchildren. We are not pleased with the provider and would like to change to another, for example a bank. Can we do this while maintaining the current balances and without incurring any penalties from the original provider?

49 Rohini Puddicombe

1) If there are 2 separate RESP accounts open for a child, 1 by the maternal grandparent& 1 by the paternal grandparent can both be designated to receive the Government grant.

2) If an RESP account is opened for 1 child by a grandparent can another child be added as a beneficiary to the existing account.

Thank you.

50 Emma

I recently opened an resp account for both my children. One is 10 and the other 3. I was informed that in order to qualify for any grants from the government each child would need a separate account. I no longer believe his is true but regardless I have two resp accounts. I would like to know if I can add one child’s resp to the other or simply have a beneficiary added to the other? In case one doesn’t use it the other one can take full advantage of the money contributed.
I hope you can help figure this out…

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