Education Costs in Canada: 8 Alternative Ways Grandparents Can Assist Grandchildren

Education is a vital investment in a child’s future, and as the cost of higher education continues to rise, many Canadian families rely on Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) to help them save for their children’s post-secondary education. However, there are alternative ways for grandparents to assist their grandchildren with post-education costs other than opening an RESP. In this article, we will explore various options available to grandparents in Canada, providing them with alternative avenues to support their grandchildren’s educational aspirations.


Grandparents play a crucial role in shaping the lives of their grandchildren, and one area where their support can have a significant impact is in financing post-education costs. While RESPs are a popular choice for many families, they may not be suitable for everyone due to various reasons such as eligibility criteria or personal preferences. Therefore, it’s essential to explore alternative ways grandparents can assist their grandchildren in fulfilling their educational dreams.

Understanding the Importance of Post-Education Costs

Before delving into alternative ways grandparents can help, it’s crucial to understand the financial burden faced by students pursuing higher education in Canada. Tuition fees, accommodation, textbooks, and other expenses can add up quickly, making it challenging for many students to manage their finances. By providing financial assistance, grandparents can help alleviate this burden, enabling their grandchildren to focus on their studies and achieve their goals.

Exploring Alternative Ways Grandparents Can Assist

1. Setting Up a Trust Fund

When considering the advantages of a trust fund over a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) in the Canadian context, several circumstances may arise where a trust fund proves to be a more favorable option. First and foremost, a trust fund provides greater flexibility in terms of how the funds can be used. While an RESP solely caters to educational expenses, a trust fund allows for more comprehensive financial support. This means that grandchildren can utilize the funds for various purposes beyond education, such as starting a business or purchasing a home, if deemed appropriate by the grandparents.

Furthermore, a trust fund permits more extensive control and customization compared to an RESP. Grandparents can establish specific terms and conditions within the trust, outlining how and when the funds should be distributed. This level of control ensures that the money is managed according to the grandparents’ preferences and aligns with their individual circumstances or family dynamics. In contrast, an RESP typically follows predetermined rules and regulations set by the government, which may not align with the specific intentions or desires of the grandparents.

Another advantage of a trust fund is its potential tax efficiency. While contributions to an RESP are not tax-deductible, funds placed in a trust can benefit from certain tax strategies, depending on the structure and type of trust chosen. For example, a testamentary trust established through a will can provide potential tax advantages by reducing the tax burden on investment income and capital gains. This aspect can be particularly appealing to grandparents seeking to optimize the financial benefits they pass on to their grandchildren.

It is important to note that the decision between a trust fund and an RESP should be made after careful consideration of individual circumstances, financial goals, and preferences. Factors such as the amount of funds available, the anticipated educational expenses, and the desired level of control and flexibility should all be taken into account. Consulting with a financial advisor or estate planning professional can provide valuable guidance in making an informed decision tailored to the specific needs and aspirations of the grandparents and their grandchildren.

2. Investing in Real Estate

Grandparents can consider investing in real estate to assist their grandchildren with post-education costs. By purchasing properties, grandparents can generate rental income that can be allocated towards their grandchildren’s educational expenses. This approach provides a long-term investment opportunity while simultaneously supporting their grandchildren’s educational aspirations.

3. Providing Financial Guidance and Education

In addition to setting up a trust fund or providing financial support, grandparents in Canada have various opportunities to impart valuable guidance and education on money management to their grandchildren. By sharing their wisdom and experiences, grandparents can empower their grandchildren with crucial financial skills, equipping them to make informed decisions and cultivate healthy financial habits from an early age. Here are some examples of ways grandparents can accomplish this:

  1. Budgeting Skills: Grandparents can teach their grandchildren about the importance of budgeting and creating a spending plan. They can explain how to allocate funds for different expenses, prioritize needs over wants, and set aside savings for future goals. They can use practical examples to illustrate budgeting concepts, such as helping their grandchildren create a budget for their school supplies or extracurricular activities.
  2. Saving Strategies: Grandparents can encourage their grandchildren to develop a habit of saving money regularly. They can introduce different saving strategies, such as setting goals, using piggy banks or savings jars, and opening a savings account. Grandparents can motivate their grandchildren by matching a portion of their savings or rewarding them for reaching specific milestones.
  3. Understanding Investments: Grandparents who have knowledge of investing can educate their grandchildren about the basics of different investment vehicles, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. They can explain the concept of risk and return, diversification, and the importance of long-term investing. Grandparents can even involve their grandchildren in simulated investment activities, like virtual stock market games, to provide hands-on learning experiences.
  4. Financial Responsibility: Grandparents can emphasize the significance of being financially responsible. They can discuss topics like paying bills on time, avoiding unnecessary debt, and being mindful of credit card usage. Grandparents can also share personal stories or real-life examples to demonstrate the consequences of poor financial decisions and the benefits of responsible money management.
  5. Entrepreneurship and Business: If grandparents have entrepreneurial experience, they can inspire their grandchildren to explore the business world. They can discuss the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, including identifying opportunities, creating a business plan, and understanding profit and loss. Grandparents can support their grandchildren’s entrepreneurial endeavors by providing mentorship, guidance, or even initial capital for a small venture.
  6. Philanthropy and Giving Back: Grandparents can instill a sense of social responsibility and generosity in their grandchildren. They can encourage them to give back to their communities by donating their time, talents, or a portion of their financial resources to charitable causes. By teaching the value of philanthropy, grandparents can help their grandchildren understand the positive impact they can have on the world through their actions and contributions.

These are just a few examples of how grandparents can go beyond financial support and actively participate in their grandchildren’s financial education. By sharing their knowledge, values, and experiences, grandparents can play a vital role in shaping their grandchildren’s financial well-being and equipping them with skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

4. Offering Employment Opportunities

Grandparents who own businesses or have access to professional networks have a unique advantage in providing meaningful employment opportunities for their grandchildren. This presents a valuable avenue for grandchildren to earn money while simultaneously gaining invaluable work experience. By working within the family business or through connections made by their grandparents, grandchildren can acquire practical skills, develop a strong work ethic, and cultivate a sense of responsibility.

These employment opportunities can serve multiple purposes. Firstly, the earnings can be earmarked to finance the grandchildren’s educational pursuits, alleviating the financial burden associated with tuition fees, books, and other academic expenses. Additionally, the income earned can be set aside for future expenses such as housing, transportation, or further educational aspirations.

Moreover, these employment experiences offer a broader range of benefits. Grandchildren can gain insights into various aspects of the business world, including operations, customer service, marketing, and financial management. They can also establish connections and build professional relationships that may prove valuable in their future careers. Furthermore, working alongside their grandparents fosters a sense of family unity and strengthens intergenerational bonds.

It is important to note that such employment arrangements should be based on fair and equitable practices, ensuring that grandchildren are treated as employees and receive appropriate compensation for their work. This approach ensures that the experience gained is both meaningful and legally compliant.

In summary, when grandparents leverage their businesses or professional networks to offer employment opportunities, they not only assist their grandchildren in earning money but also provide them with valuable work experience. This arrangement can contribute to funding educational endeavors and preparing grandchildren for their future professional journeys.

5. Investing in Real Estate

Investing in real estate can be a smart financial strategy for Canadian grandparents looking to assist their grandchildren with post-education costs. By purchasing properties, grandparents can generate rental income that can be dedicated to supporting their grandchildren’s educational aspirations. This approach provides a long-term investment opportunity while simultaneously offering financial support. Moreover, grandparents can build equity in real estate over time, potentially increasing the value of their investment. By leveraging real estate as a means of financial assistance, grandparents can make a meaningful impact on their grandchildren’s educational journeys while securing their own financial future.

6. Funding Business Ventures

If a grandchild shows a strong entrepreneurial drive, grandparents can explore the possibility of providing financial support for their business ventures. By offering backing and resources, grandparents can enable their grandchildren to start their own businesses, pursue innovative ideas, and potentially generate income that can be used to fund their education or meet future financial needs. This support not only assists in the immediate goal of launching a business but also nurtures valuable entrepreneurial skills and experience in the grandchild. It can serve as a stepping stone towards financial independence and provide a platform for the grandchild’s long-term success and financial stability.

7. Establishing Scholarship Programs

Grandparents who desire to create a lasting legacy can make a meaningful impact by establishing a scholarship program in their family’s name. By doing so, they can provide invaluable financial assistance to deserving grandchildren, enabling them to pursue higher education without the heavy burden of financial constraints. The scholarship program can be designed to support academic achievements, leadership qualities, or specific fields of study, depending on the grandparents’ preferences and values. Such a program not only promotes education within the family but also helps future generations realize their dreams and potential. By leaving behind a scholarship program, grandparents create a lasting legacy that invests in the education and success of their grandchildren.

References for Scholarship Programs:

  1. Canadian Scholarships:
  2. Scholarships Canada:

8. Utilizing Tax-Advantaged Accounts

Aside from RESPs, there are other tax-advantaged accounts that can be utilized to save for education expenses. For instance, grandparents can contribute to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) in their grandchildren’s name, which allows for tax-free growth and withdrawals.

Considerations and Benefits of Each Option

When considering alternative ways to assist grandchildren with post-education costs, grandparents must evaluate each option’s advantages and potential drawbacks. Factors such as tax implications, eligibility criteria, and long-term financial planning should be taken into account to make an informed decision.

While RESPs offer specific benefits, such as government grants and tax advantages, alternative options provide grandparents with more flexibility and control over the funds. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each approach based on individual circumstances and preferences.

Case Studies: Real-Life Examples of Grandparental Assistance

To illustrate the practical application of alternative ways grandparents can assist with post-education costs, let’s explore a few real-life case studies:

  1. The Trust Fund Solution: Margaret and John set up a trust fund for their grandson, Liam, when he was born. Over the years, they contributed to the fund, and when Liam enrolled in university, he had a substantial amount available to cover his tuition fees and living expenses.
  2. The Real Estate Investment: Henry and Evelyn purchased a rental property and designated a portion of the rental income to support their granddaughter, Emily, in pursuing her post-secondary education. The steady rental income provided Emily with financial stability throughout her studies.
  3. The Scholarship Legacy: William and Elizabeth established a scholarship program in memory of their late son. Each year, deserving grandchildren in the family receive financial assistance to pursue their educational dreams.

These case studies highlight the diverse ways grandparents can make a significant impact on their grandchildren’s education, emphasizing the importance of exploring alternative avenues.


In conclusion, grandparents in Canada have alternative ways to provide financial assistance for their grandchildren’s post-education costs beyond traditional RESP accounts. By exploring options such as setting up trust funds, gifting money or assets, providing financial guidance, offering employment opportunities, investing in real estate, funding business ventures, establishing scholarship programs, leveraging crowdfunding, and utilizing tax-advantaged accounts, grandparents can make a substantial impact on their grandchildren’s educational journeys.

Each alternative approach has its own considerations and benefits, allowing grandparents to choose the best option with their financial situation and preferences. Additionally, real-life case studies demonstrate the practical application of these alternative ways, showcasing how grandparents have successfully supported their grandchildren’s educational pursuits.

By actively engaging in the financial well-being of their grandchildren, grandparents can contribute to a brighter future and empower their loved ones to achieve their educational goals. Ultimately, through thoughtful and strategic financial support, grandparents can create a lasting legacy and make a meaningful difference in the lives of their grandchildren.

Additional Resources

Government of Canada. (n.d.). Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). Retrieved from

Canada Revenue Agency. (n.d.). Trusts. Retrieved from

Wealth Solutions Hub. (n.d.). Saving for Education: Understanding the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Retrieved from

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1 year ago

Best things grandparent can do is to love unconditionally and support them in their education

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