Sunday, May 1, 2011

The "School" of Thought

Three weeks after the birth of my son, Hunter, I opened a Registered Education Savings Plan and accepted my obligation and desire to begin saving for his future educational endeavors. The question of whether or not a parent should pay for their child’s education has long been debated and truthfully, I am not sure on which side of the fence I sit. My own parents never paid for any of my post secondary education, yet each made the conscious decision to separately contribute financially to the scholastic attempts of two of my siblings. Their decision to contribute towards the tuition of my siblings and not my own does not bother me. I enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that I was in control of my own future, but still it makes me wonder, how big of a role should a parent play in their child’s post secondary education?

I want my son to succeed, but still I want him to know the satisfaction and importance of hard work and perseverance. That is why I have decided against paying for his entire education and instead opted to let the government pick up part of the tab. When I was in college, I took out a loan from the federal government; a loan that I repaid with interest. Since the government received a ‘commission’ from my own educational experiences, it only seems logical that they should reward my generosity. 

While I reviewed over one dozen RESP providers, I felt that USC Education Savings Plans Inc. was the most capable of meeting my needs. They boast a four step approve to education savings that includes: Designing a registered education savings plan tailored to each individual scenario; Keeping your investment safe and secure with the potential for long-term growth; Providing access to the maximum amount of government grants; And, promising ongoing commitment to service excellence. 

A representative from USC came to my house to explain the program. I would later learn that she had lost her husband while her children were still young, and when it came time for them to go to college, she had no money to help them. As we continued to talk, I explained to her that I did not want to pay for my son’s entire education. I wanted merely provide him with enough to build a solid foundation and let him build upward from there. Her time-tested smile widened as she reached into her briefcase, pulled out a typeset paper with facts and figures spanning a five year period and said to me, “Why pay anything at all when you can let the government pay for almost 1/3 of your son’s education?” Granted I was skeptical, the government just does not hand away money. Or do they?

This is how she explained it to me:

For the first five years of a child’s life, the government offers a $100.00 monthly Universal Child Care Benefit. That totals $6000.00, when added to the $7500.00 worth of government grants available with most Registered Education Savings Plans would equal an astounding $13,500.00 in just five short years. Now, since my son will likely not be attending university at the age of six, that money will sit in a secured fund-type environment and continue to gain an attractive interest rate for an additional 13 – 15 years. 

The result, a handsome sum of money for Hunter to put towards his future education without me having to feel as though I went against my moral beliefs and footed the college bill. I have convinced myself to view the savings as a ‘scholarship’, a gift that his father and I will offer to him after he has successfully worked and saved for his first year of schooling on his own.

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