Whether you’re sending your first child to Kindergarten, helping your kids through university, or heading back to school yourself, September always brings its fair share of expenses: tuition fees, school supplies, textbooks, new clothes… the list goes on. Back to school season doesn’t always have to be about spending money, however. In fact, there are many types of “free” money out there to help Canadians with their education expenses. Here are some of the best ways you can add money back into your bank account this back to school season.
Every year about $7 million in scholarship money goes unclaimed simply because of lack of student awareness
In Canada, there are over 80,000 scholarships available for students who excel in many different fields including academic achievement, community service, athletics, the arts, and more. All together, these scholarships provide over $170 million in grants to deserving students across the country. There’s so much money available, in fact, that every year about $7 million in scholarship money goes unclaimed simply because of lack of student awareness.
Since time is valuable (especially for students), and no one actually has the time to apply for 80,000 scholarships every year, narrowing down your options is essential if you want to find the right scholarships for you or your child. That’s where websites like scholarshipscanada.com and yconic.com come in. Rather than having to search through thousands of scholarships yourself, you can use these sites to find only the scholarships you or your child are eligible for. Once you’ve provided your academic information, these sites will send applicable scholarships straight to your inbox, and you can even set up email reminders to help keep your application schedule on track.
Provincial and Federal Post Secondary Student Grants
If you’re a college or university student in need of financial assistance, there are a number of grants available at both the provincial and federal level to help you pay for your education. You could be eligible for student grants through the government of Alberta if you’re a single parent, a married/common law student whose spouse/partner cannot work for medical reasons, a single student making maintenance payments, a low-income student, or a part-time student. The Government of Canada also provides many grants for low-income students, middle-income students, part-time students, students with disabilities, and students with dependants. You can find out more about Alberta’s provincial student grants program at studentaid.alberta.ca, and the Government of Canada’s student grants program at canlearn.ca.
In Canada, there are over 80,000 scholarships available for students who excel in academic achievement, community service, athletics, the arts, and more.
RESPs and TFSAs
Another way to earn “free money” is to transform your savings into earnings through smart investments. Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are the most popular option for school savings, and they present several advantages over typical savings plans. First, RESP contributions of up to $2,500 per child per year will be matched by the government at a rate of up to 40% through the Canada Education Savings Grant. The tax on any growth in your RESP is also deferred until the money is withdrawn by the student, which means that, in most cases, the growth will be taxed at a low rate.
Another option is to use a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) for your education savings. While TFSA contributions won’t give you access to the Canada Education Savings Grant, they are tax free, and, while RESPs max out at $50,000, there’s no limit to how much you can contribute to a TFSA.
To find out more about which type of investment is best for your education savings plan, contact one of our financial advisors today.