August 15, 2013 - 3:30am

NANAIMO, BC: Vancouver Island University (VIU) is encouraging more eligible families to take advantage of the Canada Learning Bond -- a federal government program that allows families with modest incomes to save for their children’s education -- by hosting a series of sign-up events across Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. The first of these sign-up events was held on August 7 at VIU's Nanaimo campus with more planned this fall.

The Canada Learning Bond program, which began in 2004, provides an initial $500 in education funds for children whose families receive the National Child Benefit Supplement, plus an additional $100 per year until children reach the age of 15. To be eligible, children must have been born after December 31, 2003, have a birth certificate and Social Insurance Number (SIN), and be a beneficiary under a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

Since the program was launched, 27.5% of eligible families across Canada have taken advantage of the program; in the Nanaimo region it’s less than 24.7%. In an effort to increase participation, VIU is hosting a series of Canada Learning Bond sign-up events to allow families to meet with service providers and financial institutions, and to register immediately for the learning bond and the other supporting documents.

“Research has shown children who have some savings set aside for tuition costs are 50% more likely to attend a post-secondary institution,” says Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “We also know that post-secondary education opens the doors to so many opportunities including better job options. At VIU we’re focused on taking a leadership role in encouraging and supporting as many people as possible to access post-secondary education and all the opportunities it creates.”

Service Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada were all on hand at the August 7 sign-up event in Nanaimo to meet with eligible families and register them for the Canada Learning Bond. VIU is also working with school divisions and community organizations to encourage families to come out and sign their children up for the program.

“This opens up a vision of post-secondary education for many parents who wouldn’t have though it was possible for their children,” said Bill Robinson, School Trustee for District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), came to show his support for the inaugural event. “It’s a really important event and I hope that more families will be inspired to get their children registered for this program.”

VIU students Dan Cato and Jacqueline Matilpi are organizing these sign-up events with the support of VIU's President's Office and University Relations department.

“We were really pleased with how the event turned out,” said Cato. “An event like this is important because education can be the largest factor limiting the social and economic success of an individual. The standard level of education in a community, is a direct indication of the quality of life experienced by all its members. To increase the quality of life in our region, we must ensure equal educational opportunities for everyone.”

The next sign-up event will be at VIU’s Cowichan Campus. For more information on future events or on the program, please contact Dan Cato at or 250-740-2712.

Tags: In the Community

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