Education Savings

Individual vs. Family RESP

3 min read

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There are two main types of RESP – and which one you choose often depends on your relationship to the beneficiary:

  • An Individual RESP can be opened by anyone for anyone.
  • A Family RESP can be opened by parents or grandparents of the children and can be withdrawn in the name of any beneficiary named to the plan.

Key differences

  • There must be only one active beneficiary at all times.
  • You can name one or more beneficiaries.
  • You want to save for yourself or for a child who is or is not related to you by blood or adoption as per the Income Tax Act (e.g., nieces, nephews, cousins).
  • All beneficiaries in the plan must be related to you by blood or adoption (i.e., children, grandchildren, siblings).
  • The beneficiary can be named to the RESP at any age.
  • Beneficiary must be under age 21 to be added.
  • Can be made for up to 31 years after the plan is started.
  • Remain the property of the subscriber.*
  • Can only be made for the current year, up to a lifetime limit of $50,000.
  • Can be made for a beneficiary until age 31.
  • Remain the property of the subscriber.*
  • Can only be made for the current year, up to a lifetime limit of $50,000 per beneficiary.
  • Must be made in the name of a specific beneficiary.

Recommended for:

  • Single-child families.
  • Families with large age differences between children.
  • Subscribers* who want to set up an RESP for themselves or someone they’re not related to.
Recommended for:
  • Single-child families planning to have more children.
  • Families with more than one child or planning to have more than one child.
  • Families with more than one child as the government grants and income – with the exception of the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) – are shared by all beneficiaries in the plan.**

* A subscriber is the person opening an RESP and making contributions on behalf of a beneficiary. **Additional Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), British Columbia Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) and Quebec Education Savings Incentive Increase (QESI Increase) can only be paid if all beneficiaries of the Family RESP are siblings. While the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) can be paid into a sibling-only Family plan, unlike the other plans mentioned above, the CLB cannot be shared among siblings.

Ask your financial advisor today about how to get started with education savings, or visit


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September 12, 2023