"Today I will do what others won't so tomorrow I can do what others can't."
Jerry Rice, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver
I have to ask the question: how many times do you leave free money on the table?
Today, according to Knowledge First Financial Inc, I learned that only 1 in 6 parents in Alberta are using Registered Educational Savings Plan to help save for their children's post secondary education costs. I will not get into the gritty details of the RESP program but I will say that it is terrific vehicle for parents/grandparents/guardians AND students to save for their long term education.
The Parkland School Division should encourage new ways to help bring attention to these opportunities for families in our community.
The cost of post secondary education has and appears likely to continue to grow. As such, the importance of planning early in a child's life about how to prepare for these costs is becoming more and more important. Like any journey, postsecondary makes more sense if you try to plan your route before you get to your destination. The main ally on our side is time. But it is the type of ally that will turn on you if you do not use it wisely.
I think the best benefits of the RESP program are twofold: Matching contributions and tax deferred growth.
The Federal Government will match contributions into the RESP account up to 20% per year to a maximum of $500.00 and up to a lifetime maximum of $7,200.00. That is free money. No other way around it.
The growth on the money in the RESP-interest, dividends, capital gains...accumulate in a tax deferred status. So, if your child attends college or university, they report any income withdrawn and pay the tax. I won't go any further into the tax portion, as I am not an accountant. There are not many better ways to gradually build an education fund than an RESP.
If only 1 in 6 parents in Alberta are taking advantage of the RESP, it means that many households are not accessing the available funds to build toward the long term educational goals.
As a perspective School Board Trustee, I find it difficult to imagine we would know of such an opportunity being wasted and not try to grow the numbers. Imagine a community where 50% of the families were using the best vehicle for long term educational savings? What about 80%? Imagine the optimism about so many families working toward being as prepared as we can be to send our kids to post secondary. Imagine the satisfaction in starting early and knowing that we have a plan. Imagine the reduction in STRESS when out kids are finishing up high school?
I look forward to the opportunity to encourage families to connect with professionals to assist to tools such as the Registered Educational Savings Plan. This would fall into one of my 'Big 3' ideas to help connect our schools to other community groups and businesses within our community to help build our knowledge and cultivate our skills. The sooner we begin, the greater the opportunity for our students to have more options for their future.
Adam McArthur-Candidate for Parkland School Division Trustee-Spruce Grove