Less than half of eligible children are signed up for education grant

BCTESG

More than 280,000 B.C. children are eligible for an education grant offered by the B.C. government – but as of March 2018, only 31 per cent of those eligible had participated in the program, according to the Ministry of Education.

The one-time grant, called the British Columbia Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG), provides $1,200 to eligible children as an incentive to save for post-secondary education. Both parents and children must be B.C. residents, and only children born on or after Jan. 1, 2006, and after they have turned six years old are eligible. The grant is available through 55 banks and credit unions.

The province doesn’t provide numbers for how many eligible children have signed up on the Sunshine Coast. Jodi Fichter, VP marketing for the Sunshine Coast Credit Union (SCCU), said the credit union is trying to get the word out about the grant. “One of our guiding principles is concern for our community so we don’t want the families to miss out on this.”

Kim Starnes, mobile financial advisor at SCCU, said the grant is unique because it’s a limited program for children, is a one-time grant and because parents don’t have to make any other financial contributions.

The deadline for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 cohorts is Aug. 14, but only 43 per cent of those cohorts have signed up across the province. “When these things are launched, the awareness at that point is high, but people may forget about it. And this is money that would be funds for our children for their future, so we’re just trying to call attention to the expiry date,” Fichter said.

The credit union has also been promoting the grant and upcoming deadline on social media.

According to the ministry, remaining funds stay in a special fund dedicated to the grant. The program has been offered since 2015 and is administered by the federal government. Children who aren’t eligible for the BCTESG can apply for the Canada Learning Bond and the Canada Education Savings Grant through the government of Canada.