VIU and Island School Districts Partner to Promote Education Savings Grants

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June 14, 2021 - 4:00pm

Families are being encouraged to open a no-fee, no contribution required Registered Education Savings Plan to access federal and provincial grants.

Vancouver Island, BC: Every year, Vancouver Island students miss out on millions of dollars in education savings grants from the provincial government because families don’t sign up to receive them.

That’s why Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Office of Community Partnerships has teamed up with Island school districts to share information about these grants and ensure families are taking advantage of them. This month, educational materials are flowing out to students and their families in five school districts: 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), 69 (Parksville-Qualicum), 70 (Pacific Rim/Port Alberni), 72 (Campbell River) and 79 (Cowichan).

The materials, which are going out to every family with kids aged 5-8, will encourage families to open a no-fee, no contribution required Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) so they can access education savings grants. The BC Training & Education Savings Grant is a $1,200 one-time grant available to children between the ages of 6-9. If it is not claimed by the time each child turns nine, the grant is no longer available.

“From Duncan to Campbell River, only about 42% of families have signed up to receive this free money, which means last year, about $3.4 million was left unclaimed because children aged out and can no longer receive it,” says William Litchfield, Associate Vice-President of the Office of Community Partnerships. “We know that having as little as $500 in the bank dedicated to post-secondary changes conversations around the dinner table and greatly increases the chances that those children will go to university one day.”

The campaign was launched after Litchfield read an article in The Tyee that revealed a disparity in the income levels of families accessing the grant – with families in higher income regions much more likely to receive the grant.

“We see this as an opportunity for improvement in the regions VIU serves,” says Litchfield. “Nearly 80% of the jobs of the future will require some form of post-secondary training. We need to ensure children in our region are taking advantage of every opportunity that will help them attend.”

School districts are sending out the information in a variety of ways to families and sharing information on social media to boost awareness. The materials will also promote the Canada Learning Bond, a contribution by the federal government into the RESP of a child born since 2004 whose family is considered low-income. Even one year of previous eligibility for the grant will allow a child to take advantage of the grant. Currently, there is about $44 million in unclaimed Canada Learning Bond grants in the region.

“We want to show families how easy it can be to access this money,” says Blake Landry, VIU’s Canada Learning Bond Coordinator. “For an hour’s work or less, you can have at least $1,200 saved for your child’s future. And if you need help, we are here to support you.”

To learn more, visit VIU Canada Learning Bond or email


Media Contact:

Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews


Quotes from Partners

“The Campbell River School District is happy to partner with VIU and other Island school districts in helping families access their BC Training & Education Savings Grant. We want to make sure that our SD72 students are supported in every possible way toward their future educational endeavours.” ­— Superintendent Jeremy Morrow


“School District 69 Qualicum is excited about getting our students access to their BC Training & Education Savings Grant and supporting families in making education a lifetime priority for their children.” — Keven Elder, Superintendent of Schools


“The cost of post-secondary education has steadily increased over time. To lessen the burden of those costs, families have the option of opening a Registered Education Savings Plan and many of those families qualify for free grants from the BC government. The district and Vancouver Island University are working together to help you plan for your child’s future.” — Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ Board Chair Charlene McKay

Tags: Community Engagement | VIU Foundation | Announcements

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