It’s almost time for your child to head off for college or university. But how do you make sure he or she will make the right educational choices – and is it better to select a school near home or farther away?
1. Research education programs and schools and consider a trip to the school. Be sure your child is comfortable with their choice.
2. As early as possible, plan how you will pay for your child’s post-secondary education:
- Investments held in a Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) work well and take advantage of government contributions as well as income-splitting.
- Your child may be able to work part-time or during the summer.
- Apply for scholarships and bursaries.
- Always file tax returns for your child to recover withheld taxes from their employment, to obtain refundable GST and other tax credits, and to build Investments held in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and Tax Free Savings Account contribution room for the future.
3. Reduce education costs:
- Set a budget and stick to it. Use credit cards responsibly, if at all.
- Ensure you don’t pay needless fees. For example, universities often charge for a student medical plan but your child may be able to opt out of the school’s coverage if covered by a parent’s plan.
- Buy used textbooks and sell them when the semester ends.
- Take advantage of free or inexpensive programs such as the school gym or clubs and sporting events.
4. If your child agrees, select a school near home. The living and travel expenses will be significantly less than if your student lives away from home – and you will be there to provide moral and living support. To help your child make the decision about whether to stay or go, ask them for honest answers questions like these:
- Do you feel comfortable looking after yourself – including doing laundry and grocery shopping?
- Will you become homesick?
- How often will you want to come home and what will it cost?
- Do you have the discipline to resist getting overly involved in social life?
- Will your new independence enhance your personal growth?
- Is there a program offered away from home that you cannot get here?
- Perhaps it would be better to obtain you first degree/diploma where you can be sure of support and your second degree/diploma away?
Make the right educational – and financial – choices for you and your child with the third-party assistance of your professional advisor.
This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.