What is the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)?


Fact Checked

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) is free money the government provides for your child’s future post-secondary education.  

Funds are deposited directly into your kid’s (the beneficiary’s) Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) account and grow tax-free until withdrawal.

Depending on a family’s net income, kids may also be eligible to receive an additional grant, referred to as the additional CESG (A-CESG).

Key Takeaways

  • You can receive Canada Education Savings Grants of up to $500 annually based on an annual contribution of $2,500.
  • Families with low- to moderate-income may qualify for 10-20% in additional grants on the first $500 contributed to a child’s RESP each year.
  • The lifetime maximum grant you can receive per child is $7,200.

How much CESG money will you receive?

Unlike the Canada Learning Bond, you must contribute to your child’s RESP to receive the CESG funds.

Basic CESG

The government will contribute 20 cents for every $1 you contribute, up to a maximum of $500 per child per year.

To receive the maximum grant of $500 in any particular year, you would need to contribute at least $2,500 for that year (i.e. $2,500 x 20%).

Additional CESG

Low to middle-income families may be eligible for additional grants known as the A-CESG.

Depending on a family’s net income, the additional grant is 10-20% on the first $500 contributed to your child’s RESP each year. Families with a net income:

  • Less than or equal to $53,359 are eligible for an additional 20% in grants on the first $500 contributed (i.e. $100).
  • Between $53,359 and $106,717 are eligible for an additional 10% in grants on the first $500 contributed (i.e. $50).

The additional grant is reviewed annually based on the adjusted family net income level shown on your tax return for the previous tax year. For 2024, your 2023 tax return is used.

Example: Assume you make an annual RESP contribution of $2,500 to your kid’s RESP.

Net Family IncomeBasic CESG AmountAdditional CESG AmountTotal CESG Amount
$53,359 or less$500$100$600
Between $53,359 to $106,717$500$50$550
More than $106,717$5000$500

Unused RESP room can be carried forward and contributed in future years. The maximum lifetime limit receivable as grants through the CESG is $7,200.

Related: Best RESP Providers in Canada

Eligibility for the Canada Education Savings Grant

The CESG is available to your child until the end of the year they turn 17 as long as:

  • They are a Canadian resident and
  • They have a valid social insurance number, and
  • They have an RESP account opened in their name, and,
  • An application has been made for the grant.

Related: How To Maximize Your Canada Child Benefits

How To Apply for the CESG

Receiving the CESG is easy.

Open an RESP account at a financial institution of your choice for your child and request that the bank (RESP provider) apply for the CESG (and A-CESG, if eligible) on your behalf.

Final Thoughts

College or any other post-secondary education can be pretty expensive. Government grants provided through the CESG can lessen the burden by providing you with free money to save. The free funds are essentially a guaranteed 20% return on your investment!

Consider giving your kids a leg-up by contributing to an RESP early and using compound interest and time to your advantage. Your child will thank you!

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Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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