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Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning, 2013

Released: 2014-10-29

Almost 7 in 10 Canadian children (68%) 17 years old or younger had savings set aside for their postsecondary education. New data from the 2013 Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP) mirror data from 2008, the last time similar data were collected. In 2008, 70% of children had savings set aside for their postsecondary education.

However, the proportion of those children whose parents were using Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) as a vehicle for savings increased in 2013. More than three-quarters (77%) of children with savings had an RESP in 2013, compared with 69% in 2008.

The average value of these RESPs was unchanged compared with the 2008 Access and Support to Education and Training Survey. In the 2013 SAEP, parents of children 17 years old or younger were asked to report the value of their child's RESP at the end of 2012. The average amount among children with an RESP was $10,253. This compares with an average of $10,217 at the end 2007 (in 2012 dollars).

Parental education, education expectations and the child's academic performance reflected in savings patterns

Survey results highlighted the importance played by parental education and postsecondary education expectations in saving behaviours, as well as the role of the child's academic performance.

Among children whose parents had a high school diploma or less, 52% had savings set aside for their education. This proportion increased to 66% among children whose parents had a trade certificate or college diploma and 78% among children whose parents had a university degree.

Among children whose parents hoped they would go into the trades or to college, 53% already had savings set aside at the time of the survey. This compares with 71% among children whose parents hoped they would attend university.

About 78% of children with grades above 90% had parents who were currently saving. This proportion was much lower (53%) for children with grades between 60% and 70%.

Amount saved varies with the child's age and household income level

For children with parents who were already saving, the RESP amounts saved varied according to several factors, including the child's age and household income. Further analysis of the SAEP data will broaden understanding of the relative importance of the factors influencing the postsecondary planning process.

The average RESP amount saved at the end of 2012 for children up to four years old was approximately $4,100. For children aged 5 to 12, it was $10,387, and for those aged 13 to 17, it was $15,904.

Household income was also a factor in the amount of money saved by current RESP contributors. The survey provided information for five household income levels, the lowest group having household income of less than $30,000 and the highest $100,000 or more.

As of October/November 2013, 44% of children living in households with income of less than $30,000 had parents who were saving. This proportion increased by income group to 82% among children living in households with income of $100,000 or more. Among those with savings, children in the highest income grouping were also more likely to use RESPs. Among those with RESP savings, the value was highest for children with household income of $100,000 or more. The value of RESP savings for children was lowest among those in households with income from $30,000 to less than $50,000.

  Note to readers

Data in this release come from the Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP), conducted by Statistics Canada in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada.

SAEP collects detailed information on how Canadians prepare for their children's postsecondary education and was conducted in October and November 2013 as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey. Just over 9,000 children 17 years old or younger were selected for the sample. In most cases, their parents or guardians responded, although in some instances, older children living on their own were contacted.

They were asked a series of questions about the educational aspirations parents have for their children; children's academic performance; and financing strategies to be used to cover the costs of postsecondary education.

Prior to 2013, SAEP was also conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey in 1999 and 2002. In 2008, the SAEP was integrated into the Access and Support to Education Survey. Results are reported for children whose parents hoped that they would pursue postsecondary education

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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