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RESP Basics

The Smart Way To Withdraw


How to withdraw the smart way

When it comes to withdrawing your RESP funds, there is a right way and a wrong way. Let’s explore some withdrawal tips that can save you and your child a lot of money.

1. Withdraw your EAPs in the first couple years of school (in most cases)

Government grants and investment gains that have accumulated in your RESP are taxable income to the student which usually means little or no tax on this money.

Since students tend to get higher-paying internships or jobs when they are in their later years of school, it usually makes sense to withdraw income, as an Educational Assistance Payment (EAP), in the earlier years.


Your student is 18 and has enrolled in a post-secondary school. You have been contributing $208 monthly to your child’s RESP for 18 years and have received the full CESG allotment of $7,200. Let’s assume that you have received an average rate of return of 4% over that period of time. The RESP funds available at the time of enrolment would be $76,608*.

Contributions Plan income (grants, investment gains, loyalty bonus)
Amount in RESP $44,982 $31,680
Taxation at withdrawal Not taxed Taxable to the student
Strategy Withdraw these funds as a Post-Secondary Education Payment when the student’s income is higher (usually in later years) Withdraw these funds as an Educational Assistance Payment (EAP) when the student’s income is lower (usually in earlier years)

* Investment gains are based on an assumed 4% rate of return with income compounded monthly until July of the first year of post-secondary enrolment, net of all estimated fees. Actual value of your plan may vary depending on the investment performance of the plan. As every situation is different, consulting with your accountant for tax advice is recommended.

2. Don’t withdraw contributions before enrolment

Although you can withdraw your contributions tax-free at any time, you should avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Withdrawing before your child enters postsecondary school will result in the government clawing back the grant money they contributed.

 3. When withdrawing for non-educational purposes, move RESP income to your RRSP

If your child decides not to attend postsecondary school, your RESP investment gains can be withdrawn as an Accumulated Income Payment (AIP). Since AIPs carry a hefty tax (regular income tax + an additional tax of 20%, or 12% for residents of Quebec) you are well-advised to keep that income tax-sheltered by moving it to your RRSP (If you have room). 

Written by Embark

Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.