Individual vs. Family RESP

By: Sound Choices • August 8, 2018 • Personal Finance

RESP Series

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a tax-sheltered plan registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that can help families save for their children’s post-secondary education.

Contributions made to an RESP grow tax free until the funds are withdrawn to pay when the beneficiary is registered at a qualifying educational program.



There are two types of RESPs, individual and family. Basically, 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 A family RESP can be opened by parents or grandparents of the children and can be withdrawn in the name of any beneficiary named to the plan.


Individual RESP Family RESP
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 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 are shared by all beneficiaries in the plan**

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

* A subscriber is the person opening an RESP and making contributions on behalf of a beneficiary
**Additional CESG, CLB, BCTESG, QESI and SAGES can only be paid if all beneficiaries of the Family RESP are siblings.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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