TORONTO, Dec. 1 /CNW/ - Low-income families do not know that they can receive a grant from the federal government for their child's education, reveals a report published today by Maytree, written by May Wong, Executive Director of the OMEGA Foundation.
Getting an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) is often the first step in saving for a child's education. It is also the only way that low-income families can receive the Canada Learning Bond, which provides up to $2,000 without any parental contributions. Almost, 900,000 children across Canada who would be eligible are not receiving it. In Ontario alone, 340,000 children are missing out. Most low-income families are not aware that the Bond exists, and there is little information in places where they could easily find it, such as schools, community organizations and libraries.
"Parents are confused and service providers are often not sure how to advise them," said May Wong, designer of the SmartSAVER project which mobilizes a range of partners to make RESPs more accessible. "What's clear, though, is that parents from low-income families place a high priority on education and want to help their children succeed in school."
Studies have shown that children with savings get higher grades and are more likely to pursue post-secondary education. Education savings, especially started early in children's lives, can encourage children in low-income families to want to pursue post-secondary education and to put extra effort into their school work.
The report, "More than Money: Mining the human and financial potential of Canada's education savings programs for low-income families" lists eight recommendations. The first four recommendations are for organizations serving low-income families to provide families with accurate RESP information in their own communities and languages. The final four are for government to make it easier for low-income families to start an RESP that suits their needs.
Implementing the recommendations would increase access to education for those low-income students who are currently underrepresented in post-secondary education. For an individual, higher education means better jobs, higher wages and better employment security. For society, the gain is increased productivity, increased tax revenues, and savings of billions of dollars due to avoided social and health costs attributed to low educational attainment. In addition, learning about and using education savings programs can improve the financial literacy of low-income parents, further strengthening financial resilience.
For more information and a copy of the report, visit www.maytree.com/policy-papers/more-than-money.
SmartSAVER is a non-profit community project convened by the Omega Foundation and involves a number of government, financial institution and charitable partners. Through its multilingual website (available in 14 different languages) and outreach and education initiatives, the project helps families find out how to find and start an RESP and how to access Government money for their children's education after high school. SmartSAVER does not sell RESPs or investments, nor does it financially benefit from their sale. www.smartsaver.org.
For further information: For further information:
May Wong, Executive Director, The OMEGA Foundation
416-966-1418, [email protected]
Markus Stadelmann-Elder, Manager, Communications, Maytree
416-944-2627 ext. 284; [email protected]