28 May 2018

RESPs: Yes, they are for you too!

My name is Diane Mukuka and I am the READ Saskatoon Financial Literacy Facilitator and my focus is Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). I joined READ Saskatoon in January 2018 and have been connecting with community organizations, school coordinators, and parent groups across the city, sharing information about RESPs. Our presentations explain what an RESP is, the importance of having one, the different types of RESPs and associated investment options, the different providers as well as the free money available from government through the Canada Learning Bond and various grants. We also explain the 3 easy steps to opening an RESP.

In the short time I have worked in this role, I have learned a lot:

Although Post-Secondary Education opens the doors to so many opportunities, for some families it seems unattainable because of the associated cost. Many dreams end at this realization, giving young people little or no motivation to dream beyond high school. If they do dream, they think of the debt they may have to graduate with. There are currently millions of unclaimed federal education dollars available and we want to ensure that it reaches those families who need it most.

Unfortunately, not many people know about RESPs, and even for those that do know, there is a lot of misinformation that acts as a barrier to families. READ Saskatoon recognizes the need to empower communities with financial information for them to make meaningful and informed decisions about their children’s futures. We make sure families are not only aware of RESP information, but also that they get the right information about them. We adapt our presentations to suit various group needs and we break down the complex financial jargon into everyday language.

There are many available options for RESP choices, regardless of economic status. Some families believe that because of their financial status, RESPs are not meant for them. But they leave our presentations with a different mindset after learning of the government support available to help them open RESPs for their children. And for families that may not have financial struggles, their benefit has been learning more about the various RESP options and conditions for opening and maintaining them, depending on which provider they choose. As one participant said, “If only I had been given all this information before I opened RESPs for my kids, I would have made different decisions about them.”

I celebrate every RESP that is opened because with each comes countless opportunities for a child’s future, and the future of our province and country.

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