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RESP Withdrawals: Everything Parents & Students Need To Know

When your child was born, you held them in the hospital, overcome with love and joy, and dreamt of all the ways you could provide and care for your little one.

You reflected on all the ways your own parents could provide for you, and all the ways they couldn’t, and you dreamt of how to give all that to your child. You dreamt of seeing their smile and joy when you’d help them achieve milestones as they grew up. You dreamt of a happy child, learning voraciously in a post-secondary institution without the stress of worrying about money.

With that dream in mind, you opened a Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, and started contributing to the account. With the advice of your wealth advisor, you made a plan to achieve your goal of helping your child with post-secondary education. A couple years later, you had another baby and you wanted all the same things for them, so they were added as a beneficiary to the Family RESP.

Over the years contributions were made on behalf of both children, the government chipped in grant money, and funds were prudently invested. The RESP continued to grow and compound for almost 20 years. 

Your oldest child grew up, has just graduated from high school and has been accepted to attend post-secondary education in the fall. Your youngest is still a couple years away, but they’ve never been fond of classes and they’re considering starting a small business instead.

You decide that it’s time to meet with your wealth planner, and you make a list of questions to find out everything you need to know about withdrawing from the RESP. 

What is the difference between a Family RESP and an Individual RESP, and why is it relevant to withdrawals?

A Family RESP has multiple beneficiaries that are family members of the subscriber (children/ grandchildren), and an individual RESP only has one beneficiary. 

With Family RESPs, the funds in the account can be distributed in any proportion to any beneficiary, as long as each beneficiary doesn’t receive more than $7,200 in government grants. This is helpful if one beneficiary decides not to attend post-secondary education as funds, with exception to the government grants aligned with the beneficiary, can be distributed to the other beneficiaries.

What are Educational Assistance Payments (EAP) and refund of contributions, and what’s the difference between them?

Unlike RRSP contributions, RESP contributions are not tax deductible. That means that all the funds contributed to the RESP throughout the years have already been subject to income tax, so these contributions are considered after-tax funds. To avoid being taxed again, these funds are recorded by the financial institution as notional figures, referred to as the RESP “history”. When these funds are withdrawn, they are referred to as a “refund of contributions” or “refund of payments”, and these amounts are not taxable receipts.

However, the grants (and bonds, if applicable) that were paid into the account, and the investment income and growth inside the RESP, are amounts that haven’t been subject to tax. These amounts make up the EAP. They are taxable in the hands of the beneficiaries which is a cool income splitting feature of the RESP that isn’t mentioned often. Grants and bonds are also recorded by the financial institution as notional figures in the RESP history. Because investment income and growth isn’t a fixed number, it isn’t recorded until a withdrawal is actually made – but it’s easy to deduce as the difference between the account value, and the contributions-plus-grants.

How do I take funds out of the RESP as EAP or PSE?

Once your child is enrolled at a post-secondary institution, the institution can provide a proof of enrolment or verification of enrolment. This is not the same thing as acceptance – your child needs to be enrolled to take noncapital contribution funds (see below) out of the RESP. You can provide the proof of enrolment to your wealth advisor, along with instructions on how much to take out, and the funds can be sent to your or your child’s bank account, to be put towards education costs.

What can the funds be used for?

There is no restriction on what the funds can be used for, as long as it’s in furtherance of the beneficiary’s education. Many RESP holders are surprised to find out that they can use the money for their student’s housing, tuition, books, or other living expenses (is a beer allowance necessary for a beneficiary’s education? 🤔).

Do I need receipts?

CRA’s position is that no proof of the reasonableness of expenses is required if the EAP withdrawal is below $26,860 (for 2023). So no, you don’t need to submit receipts, most of the time.

Do I need to provide a proof of enrolment for every withdrawal?

After the initial withdrawal, receipts or proof of enrolment are not required however RESP promoters may request proof of enrolment to withdraw EAP.

How much can I take out at a time?

As always, it depends!  

There are different rules for the type of withdrawal, if the withdrawal relates to the first 13 weeks of enrollment, and if the beneficiary is a part-time or full-time student. 

There are two types of withdrawals that can occur while a RESP beneficiary is a post-secondary student: (1) withdrawal of contributions, or Post-Secondary Education Withdrawal (PSE) as it’s referred to at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth, and (2) Educational Assistance Payments (EAP) which consist of grants, bonds and investment income and growth in the RESP.

Generally, there are no restrictions on how much can be withdrawn as PSE.

For EAP, during the first 13 weeks, part-time students can withdraw up to $4,000 of EAP and full-time students up to $8,000 of EAP. If your child remains enrolled after the first 13 weeks, there is no restriction on annual EAP withdrawals.


Let’s consider an example.  A family RESP is worth $100,000 today. $60,000 in contributions and $12,000 in government grants are noted. $60,000 can be paid out tax-free, and $40,000 will be taxable to  beneficiaries when paid out, depending on investment performance until the RESP is depleted.

If the EAPs are taxable, does that mean my child will pay tax?

Again, it depends! 

Whether a beneficiary pays income tax or not depends on several factors, namely:

  • How much was contributed to the RESP
  • The investment returns generated in the RESP
  • The beneficiary’s marginal tax rate – and whether they have other taxable income such as salary from employment or investment income
  • Personal tax credits that reduce taxes otherwise payable – the Basic Personal Amount, Tuition (and Education), etc.
  • Whether a plan is in place to withdraw EAPs first, then PSE.

In a perfect world, all children/beneficiaries would attend post-secondary education full-time for four years, graduate and enter the workforce without needing to go back to school. 

If we use the same example as above – family RESP worth $100,000 and no further investment returns, each beneficiary would receive $8,000 the first year, and then $14,000 for each of the remaining three years ($100,000 / 2 beneficiaries – $8,000 EAP limit first 13 weeks / 3 years remaining).  Assuming 40% of each withdrawal is EAP – $3,200 first year, $5,600 the remaining three years – it is unlikely any beneficiary will have a tax liability, even with summer employment given their respective Federal Basic Personal Amount (approximately $15,000) and Tuition (approximately $6,500) tax credits.

What if my child changes their mind about school, or one of my children decides not to attend post-secondary education?

Keep your wealth planner informed. This significant change will require an update to the RESP withdrawal plan. 

In the same RESP example as above, with only one child attending post-secondary education, you might take $10,000 EAP per year ($7,200 grant plus $32,800 investment growth, divided by four years). To the extent the one child not attending post-secondary education has received government grants and they have not been paid out as EAP to date, they will need to be returned.

If your child quits school or is even thinking of quitting school, let your wealth planner know right away – there may be several opportunities to split the income between calendar years, use RRSP’s or tuition credits to offset income, switch withdrawals to another child, or even move funds into your own RRSP. Again, the only caveat is that for the child not attending post-secondary education, their government grants not paid out as EAP to date, will have to be returned.

What are some easy-to-avoid mistakes when withdrawing from an RESP?

Let your wealth planner know right away when your child/beneficiary will be attending post-secondary education. Some parents are so good with their money that they don’t need to withdraw from the RESP for several years – but, given the need to withdraw EAPs for the beneficiary during (or within 6 months of ceasing) post-secondary enrollment, don’t delay in drafting a plan with your wealth advisor on how to drawdown the RESP efficiently.

The information contained herein has been provided for illustrative purposes only. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Investors should seek professional financial advice regarding the appropriateness of investing in any investment strategy or security and no financial decisions should be made on the basis of the information provided in this document. Wellington-Altus Private Wealth (“WAPW”) does not assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions.  WAPW is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

© 2023, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc.


The opinions contained herein are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Wellington-Altus Private Wealth. Assumptions, opinions and information constitute the author’s judgement as of the date this material and subject to change without notice. We do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this material, and it should not be relied upon as such. Before acting on any recommendation, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Graphs and charts are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. All third party products and services referred to or advertised in this presentation are sold by the company or organization named. While these products or services may serve as valuable aids to the independent investor, WAPW does not specifically endorse any of these products or services. The third party products and services referred to, or advertised in this presentation, are available as a convenience to its customers only, and WAPW is not liable for any claims, losses or damages however arising out of any purchase or use of third party products or services. All insurance products and services are offered by life licensed advisors of Wellington-Altus. 

Amy Sweeney



Amy was born and raised in Squamish, is David’s oldest daughter and now the newest member of the Sweeney Bride team. Many may recognize her as she has worked periodically for the team for over 20 years. For the past five years, she has gained administrative experience and more running her own business as a Kinesiologist after completing a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in 2016. Now, Amy is officially ready to join the finance industry. Currently residing in North Vancouver, Amy spends all her “free” time raising Dave’s two wonderful grandchildren.
Liam Hill


Associate Investment Advisor

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Liam moved to the Sea to Sky region in 2013, leaving the beaches behind to embrace the mountains. He hasn’t looked back since and enjoys exploring the wilderness by both land and sea.

Liam’s unique strength lies in his capacity to adapt and fine-tune strategies to match the ever-changing financial world. He’s a passionate advocate for adaptability and flexibility, believing these traits are crucial for securing financial well-being.

Liam holds the Canadian Securities Course qualification and is currently pursuing the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designation.

He shares his industry knowledge and business skills to empower individuals, families, and businesses on their path to financial success.

Liam is committed to educating our clients about the financial services industry and helping them make the most of available resources to achieve prosperity.


Administrative Assistant

Sharon worked for Sweeney Bride from 2014 to 2016 and recently rejoined the team as an Administrative Assistant in 2021. She has years of administrative experience in a variety of industries including working in legal and accounting firms. She enjoys being detailed, organized and efficient. When not hard at work, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her dogs, playing co-operative strategy board games and relaxing while sipping a nice Craft beer.

Carrie Freitag


Administrative Assistant

Carrie is the newest member of our team and is our Administrative Assistant. She has previous industry and administrative experience and her fascination with the finance industry is rapidly growing. Carrie moved to BC in 1994 from Ontario and never looked back. While not working she loves hanging out with her two kids, awesome cat Leo, and enjoys a competitive game of 21, and her gardens.

Katie Norton



Katie is a Business Administration graduate who joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2016. She takes care of on-boarding as well as managing account administration for our existing clients. She works hard to ensure the clients feel supported throughout the on-boarding process and is always available to answer questions.

A BC resident since 1997, Katie and her husband moved to Squamish to raise their two girls. They enjoy all of the outdoor activities and natural beauty that Squamish has to offer.

Liz Woodsworth


Office Manager

Liz joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2015 as office manager. She is the gatekeeper in the office and is the face that greets you as you come through the door. If she can’t help you, she will ensure you speak with someone who can. Liz is a long-time Squamish local; when not in the office she spends her days soaking up all that this town has to offer while chasing her two active boys. Liz brings her valuable organizational skills and enthusiastic attitude to the team. 

Janet Bride


CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Janet Bride is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 15 years’ experience in the Industry Janet holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Janet grew up in Ontario and moved out to beautiful British Columbia in 1995 with her husband, Paul, who is an adventure travel photographer. Her passion is to travel the world. Always interested in exploring different cultures and landscapes, she is grateful to have traveled to over 50 countries across 6 continents. She also enjoys continuous learning, spontaneous adventures with family and friends, and an active lifestyle in the Sea to Sky. Janet is proud to be a Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni member since 2004.

She is highly motivated by helping people reach their financial dreams by creating comprehensive financial plans for individuals & families. While using a holistic approach to wealth management, she specializes in tax strategies and her goal is to encourage savings and help build our client’s wealth for a healthy and prosperous future.



CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Dave Sweeney is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 31 years’ experience in the Industry Dave holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Dave has lived in Squamish for most of his life. Married to his wife Donna, since 1987, they proudly have 3 lovely daughters, Amy, Danielle and Jamie. With his time in Squamish, it has allowed him an opportunity to become involved in many valuable groups.

Dave is a retired Captain of Squamish Fire Rescue after 35 years of service. Another passion was sports and he has been a coach for Squamish Youth Soccer Association where he dedicated 10 years to coaching girls Rep teams. Additionally, he is a former member and Treasurer of the Sea to Sky Community Services Board. Dave is a frequent contributor to Mountain FM’s Mountain Monitor, providing general advice and financial commentary.

Dave continues his volunteer work as Treasurer for both the Squamish Hospital Foundation and the Squamish Downtown Business Improvement Association. He is also a sitting Board member of the Squamish Community Foundation.

Professionally, Dave started his Financial Planning practice in 1994. After living through both his parents’ demise and witnessing what a lack of understanding they had, he realized what sound planning techniques could do to ensure that an untimely death did not destroy one’s lifetime work. For over 20 years, he has made it his passion to assist others in not facing the same plight.