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Save for a child’s university or college costs through RESPs. (Photos.com)
Save for a child’s university or college costs through RESPs. (Photos.com)

RESP basics

RESP fees Add to ...

Fees for RESPs vary widely, depending on where you open the plan and how you invest your money.

If your RESP is with a financial institution

  1. Opening a plan – There is usually no charge to open an RESP. Some institutions may charge a small set-up fee.
  2. Annual administration fee – There are often no annual fees for RESPs opened at a bank or a mutual fund company. The cost of other plans can vary. You may not have to pay an annual fee if you have enough savings in your plan, or if you hold other accounts with the same financial institution.
  3. Investment costs – You pay a commission when you buy stocks for your plan and when you sell them. You may pay a sales charge when you buy mutual funds for your plan or when you sell them. You're also charged a management expense ratio (MER) for the mutual funds you hold.
  4. Other costs – Most plans charge fees for special services. Examples: changing your beneficiary, transferring money to another RESP.

Ask about waiving the annual fee: Your financial institution may agree to do this if you hold other accounts there or if you have enough savings in your plan.

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If your RESP is with a scholarship plan dealer

  1. Sales fees or commissions – Also called membership or enrolment fees. The salesperson and the company they work for get a sales fee when you open a plan. If you leave the plan early or your child doesn't continue with their education after high school, you will not get back the sales fees you paid, unless you cancel within 60 days.
  2. Annual fees – These may include administration fees, trustee fees and deposit fees.
  3. Other costs – Most plans charge fees or penalties for special services. Examples: taking out contributions early, transferring money to another RESP, changing your beneficiary. If you have a group plan, you may pay a fee to change your payment schedule. Read the plan prospectus to understand the full cost of an RESP sold by a scholarship plan dealer. The prospectus is a legal document that describes how the plan works.

If you change your mind: For all plans offered by scholarship plan dealers, there is a 60-day withdrawal right where you can get all of your money back if you change your mind. After 60 days, you can get your money back, less any fees.

Comparing RESP fees

Financial
institutions
Scholarship
plan dealers
​Fees to open an account​Sometimes​Yes
​Annual fees​Sometimes​Yes
​Direct costs when you buy investments​Often​No
Fees or penalties for special services​Yes​Yes

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeInvestor

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