A new survey of Canadian parents suggests they are finding it increasingly difficult to save for their child’s education as inflation and the high cost of living take a bite out of excess savings.

The survey from education savings company Embark found that more than 76 per cent of respondents are finding it harder to save for their child’s education, while 46 per cent have stopped contributing to their child’s education savings account altogether.

“Today’s parents are watching their children grow up during a difficult job market and volatile economic conditions, and they see how higher education can provide security for young adults,” Andrew Lo, president and CEO of Embark, said in a news release on Tuesday. “Parents shouldn’t feel guilty if they haven't started saving for their child's education or have to go to extremes to give their child the tools they need to succeed.”

Education savings remains an important aspect of financial planning for many Canadians, as 66 per cent of respondents said they would postpone retirement to help pay for their child's post-secondary education, while 43 per cent said they would go into debt to help pay for it.

Some parents are feeling the emotional burden of education savings as well. The survey found 69 per cent of parents are concerned about their child’s education debt, while 64 per cent said they would feel like a failure if their child went into significant debt while pursuing an education.

According to data from Robertson College, the average student loan debt Canadian graduates face is $28,000, with total student owing topping $23.5 billion.

Embark recommends parents begin saving as early as possible and to be consistent with payments to make education saving more manageable.

“If you and your partner both save $50 every month, you’ll have enough to cover this cost by the time your child turns 18, assuming a four per cent rate of return and all the government grants you’d get from saving in an (registered education savings plan),” Lo said. “Whether your child was just born or is about to go to high school, even saving a little has the potential to become a lot over time. It’s very important just to start.”

The registered education savings plan (RESP) allows caregivers the ability to save up to $50,000 for a child’s education and the government will match 20 per cent of the contributions, up to $500 per year and a lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child.  


An online survey of 1,012 Canadian parents with children <18 was completed between February 21 and March 4, 2024, using Leger’s online panel.  No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 1012 respondents would have a margin of error of ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.