Disadvantages of an Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)?

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a popular savings vehicle in Canada, designed to help parents save for their children’s post-secondary education. While there are significant advantages, such as tax-deferred growth and government grants, it’s important to also consider the potential downsides.

In this article, we will explore the disadvantages of an RESP and provide insight to help you make an informed decision. Super Visa Insurance Monthly offers comprehensive advice and services to guide you through the complexities of education savings plans.

Limited Investment Options

One of the potential downsides of an RESP is the limited range of investment options available. While some financial institutions offer a variety of mutual funds, stocks, and bonds within their RESPs, others may provide a more restricted selection. This can limit your ability to diversify your portfolio and optimize your returns. It is crucial to thoroughly research and choose a provider that aligns with your investment strategy.

Contribution Limits and Penalties

RESPs have annual and lifetime contribution limits, currently set at $50,000 per beneficiary. Exceeding these limits can result in penalties and taxes, which can diminish the benefits of the plan. Additionally, contributions to an RESP do not generate a tax deduction, unlike other savings plans like RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans).

Government Grant Limitations

The Canadian government provides grants such as the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) to encourage RESP contributions. However, these grants come with their own set of limitations. The maximum CESG grant is $7,200 per beneficiary, regardless of the total contributions. Once this limit is reached, further contributions do not receive additional grants. Moreover, if the funds are not used for educational purposes, the grants must be repaid to the government.

Tax Implications for Withdrawals

While the contributions made to an RESP are not tax-deductible, the income earned within the plan is tax-deferred. When the funds are withdrawn to pay for educational expenses, the income and grants are taxed as the student’s income. Although students generally have lower income and tax rates, unexpected tax liabilities can arise if the student has other significant sources of income or if the withdrawal amounts are substantial.

Restrictions on Use of Funds

RESP funds must be used for qualified educational expenses at eligible institutions. If the beneficiary decides not to pursue post-secondary education, accessing the funds can be challenging. In such cases, the subscriber can withdraw their original contributions without penalty, but the income earned and government grants may be subject to taxes and repayment.

Loss of Flexibility

An RESP lacks the flexibility of other savings plans. Once the beneficiary reaches a certain age, typically 21 or 31 years depending on the plan, the RESP must be terminated. Additionally, transferring the plan to another beneficiary is allowed only under specific conditions, and any changes can impact the eligibility for government grants.


While RESPs offer valuable benefits for saving for post-secondary education, they are not without their downsides. Limited investment options, contribution limits, grant restrictions, potential tax implications, use restrictions, and loss of flexibility are all important factors to consider. It is essential to weigh these drawbacks against the benefits to determine if an RESP is the right choice for your education savings goals.

At Super Visa Insurance Monthly, we understand the complexities of education savings and investment planning. Our experts are here to help you navigate the intricacies of Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Other financial products to ensure you make the best decisions for your family’s future.

For more information or personalized advice, please contact us at:

  • Address: 205-5250 Solar Drive, Mississauga, ON L4W 0G4
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  • Phone: 647-640-2222

Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve your education savings goals with confidence and ease.