Thousands of B.C. parents missing out on $1,200 grants

In our increasingly cynical post-modern age, a Chilliwack financial advisor is desperate to explain to thousands of parents that, yes, there is such thing as a free lunch.

Terry Brown says he’s felt about 15 per cent satisfaction and 85 per cent frustration as he bangs the drum on social media and face-to-face to encourage parents of children born after 2006 to take the government up on a free $1,200 grant.

And not enough people are listening as much fewer than half of eligible children have received the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) across the province.

According to Education Minister Rob Fleming, as of March 31, 104,030 children received the grant for a total of more than $125 million in allocations.

Sounds good? Not for Brown because that means there are 176,000 kids not enrolled leaving $211 million on the table. And as of July 4, there will be just 41 days until the last day to apply for kids born in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

That’s approximately $90 million for 75,000 kids disappearing.

“I’m running out of new ways to say the same thing: empty RESP accounts are free, and free money is available,” Brown said.

“It’s free money for kids. It takes 15 minutes out of your day to bring in $1,200.”

According to Education Minister Rob Fleming, as of March 31, 104,030 children received the grant for a total of more than $125 million in allocations.

Sounds good? Not for Brown because that means there are 176,000 kids not enrolled leaving $211 million on the table. And as of July 4, there will be just 41 days until the last day to apply for kids born in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

That’s approximately $90 million for 75,000 kids disappearing.

“I’m running out of new ways to say the same thing: empty RESP accounts are free, and free money is available,” Brown said.

“It’s free money for kids. It takes 15 minutes out of your day to bring in $1,200.”

According to Education Minister Rob Fleming, as of March 31, 104,030 children received the grant for a total of more than $125 million in allocations.

Here’s how it works. To be eligible for the $1,200 BCTESG, a parent’s child must be born in 2006 or later, the parent and the child must be residents of British Columbia, and the child must be the beneficiary of a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) with a participating financial institution (virtually all banks and credit unions).

So why are parents letting this money go unclaimed? Brown’s not entirely sure but he’s trying to educate people. Whether it’s simply a lack of information, confusion about the program, or broader poor financial literacy, it’s just not happening.

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