How can you optimize your RESP contributions and get the most grant money possible?

By contributing to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to finance your child’s post-secondary education, you’ve made an excellent choice. Want to optimize your capital and maximize your RESP? You’re right! It’s important to have a good maximization strategy so you can reach the annual maximum in your RESP. We explain how to get the most out of your investments and leave no money on the table!

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Get the most out of your RESP

What is the maximum annual RESP contribution?

To get the most out of your RESP and the associated government grants, we recommend that you contribute $2,500 per year.1 While there is no annual maximum for RESPs, remember that the lifetime contribution limit for any one beneficiary is $50,000 per plan.

 Note that your child’s RESP could attract maximum grants of up to $12,8002 for his or her post-secondary education!3


The $2,500 annual contribution limit for the CESG (federal grant) and the QESI (provincial grant) is automatically carried forward to future years if your savings fall below this limit.4

What are the advantages of putting the maximum into an RESP?

While it is possible to recover unused RESP grants from previous years, contributing the maximum each year is the best way to take full advantage of your Registered Education Savings Plan.

This will help you prepare for your child’s (your beneficiary’s) future education without having to add more funds just before reaching the finish line (in other words, RESP withdrawal). That’s why it’s important to have a good RESP optimization strategy.

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What’s the difference between “maximizing an RESP” and “maximum contributions”?

Maximizing your RESP means getting the best return on your RESP investment by implementing the best strategies for making your savings grow.

Maximum contributions are the annual amounts that you should not exceed if you want to avoid going over the lifetime contribution limits.

What happens if I exceed my RESP contribution limit?

If, at the end of any month, total RESP contributions exceed the lifetime contribution limit (i.e., $50,000 per beneficiary), you will be taxed 1% per month on the amount of the excess contributions. For example, if you have contributed $53,000 to your RESP, the excess contribution of $3,000 will be taxed at $30 per month until it is withdrawn. To avoid this, it’s best to withdraw any excess funds before the end of the month.

Note that government grants paid into an RESP are not included in the contribution limit. So you won’t be penalized if your RESP exceeds the $50,000 limit only because of growth and grants, not because of excess contributions.

Monthly or annual RESP contributions?5

You can choose annual contributions, but make sure you put the maximum into your RESP by December 31 of each year to take full advantage of government grants.

If your family income allows, you can make monthly contributions, particularly by scheduling automatic payments; this will help you keep saving steadily and give you a better chance of reaching the maximum annual contribution amount that qualifies you for the government grants you’re entitled to. With monthly contributions, you’ll also reap the benefits of compounding, which generates interest on interest.

Please note that, depending on your beneficiary’s year of birth, there are limits on the total annual contributions you can make to an RESP:

  • $2,000 per year for a child born in 1996
  • $4,000 for a child born between 1997 and 2006
  • No limit for children born in 2007 and subsequent years


Contributions to an education savings plan grow tax-free until your child turns 17 and enrols in an eligible post-secondary program.3

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How much could your RESP actually earn?

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Legal Notes

1. Any amount invested in excess of $2,500 will not attract any government grants unless you have unused grant contribution room. Some conditions apply. Check out our prospectus at

2. Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) of 20% to 40% and Québec Education Savings Incentive (QESI) of 10% to 20%, based on adjusted family net income. The maximum annual CESG payment is $600, and the maximum annual QESI payment is $300. The maximum lifetime amount per beneficiary is $7,200 for the CESG and $3,600 for the QESI. Canada Learning Bond (CLB) of up to $2,000 per beneficiary for a child born after December 31, 2003, whose family is financially eligible. Some conditions apply. Check out our prospectus at

3. See our prospectus at for a list of eligible post-secondary programs.

4. If you have unused grant contribution room, government grants can be accumulated on contributions of up to $5,000 per year. Some conditions apply. Check out our prospectus at

5. See our prospectus at for information about contribution options.