Like many Canadian parents, my husband and I have been saving for our three kids’ post-secondary education pretty much since the kids were born. This is partly because I struggled with the cost and subsequent debt of post-secondary education and didn’t want to see them burdened like this but mostly because my mother is very much still alive and appears bent on spending my inheritance. Thanks a lot, Mom.

Saving for education and paying for minor hockey occasionally leaves our disposable income a little short-handed.  Once my three kids started playing hockey, my eyes gleamed with the prospect of prosperous athletic scholarships to big U.S. hockey universities. I quickly realized that perhaps the parents of the other 585,000 Canadian youths playing minor hockey may also have also had the same idea.  The reality is that the number of Canadian kids being awarded scholarships to US colleges and universities has drastically diminished over the last decade and even when a scholarship is awarded is pays only a fraction of the cost of a earning a degree south of the border.  In 2007, the rosters of the top ten hockey teams at U.S. college hockey that season showed only 59 Canadian players on those rosters. Even more sobering is the fact that according to a 2008 New York Times report on NCAA scholarships, hockey scholarships only cover an average of 80% of the cost of the education (and hockey ranks pretty high on the percentage of the cost of the education the athletic scholarship covers!).  So given that neither the NCAA nor my inheritance will pay for my kids’ education, saving for it is the really the most likely options.  Unless of course, I win the lottery.

So, my kids’ have had social insurance cards almost as long as they’ve had Ontario Health Insurance Plan cards, because a SIN is required to set up a Registered Education Savings Plan.   The federal government will actually match 20% your RESP dollars under the Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG) to a lifetime grant maximum of $7,200. Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan ( CST) can help you get started with your RESP.

cstAs for paying for the kids’ hockey, well that too has always been a balancing act.  Certainly the two years when all three of my kids were goalies ranks as two of the most expensive years we’ve ensured as parents of minor hockey players. And certainly none of my kids get all the hockey equipment they want or believe they are entitled! We’ve often drawn from and contributed to the neighbourhood chain of equipment hand-me-downs. We’ve brought picnic lunches and dinners to many a hockey tournament and occasionally even shared hotel rooms with other hockey parents to help reduce the cost of hockey travel.  Right now, CST’s Beyond the Blue Line has a contest going on, where hockey moms and dads can help their hockey team or organization win $10,000 to help make hockey a little more affordable. Submissions can be in the form of a video or picture with an essay (no longer than 1,000 characters).Entries must be received by December 31, 2013. Details and rules can be found on CST’s website.

I will, however, still buy a lottery ticket once in awhile!

How do you balance the cost of yours kids’ sports activities and saving for their post-secondary education?


Disclosure: I am part of the C.S.T. Consultants Inc. – Beyond the Blue Line blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog post are my own. Oh, and I love my mom and don’t want her inheritance.

8 Responses to A Day Late and a Dollar Short

  • We had the same dreams with our son except in baseball instead of hockey. And in the US they have a sneaky system of determining how much parents should be able to pay and put the onus on us to make that contribution, which was a sizable part of our son’s tuition after the portion of scholarship money was applied. I think higher education is getting so expensive here we will soon see a reduction of kids furthering their education. It is too difficult to pay back loans on these astronomical tuitions, especially when high paying jobs aren’t that available. It’s a real conundrum.

    • I know, Renee. I think it’s getting a little out of hand. Athletic scholarships are much rarer in Canada and have strict rules (typically can only cover tuition). Despite the reports, though, we still lose many of our best athletes to schools in the U.S.

  • My kids are band geeks and into martial arts and while we hope that they’ll have a future in the arts, I don’t see many schools handing out scholarships these days. So, I’m with you. We put aside as much as we can while preparing them for the reality that there may be sacrifices you’ll have to make to get what you want. And yes…I’ll get a lotto ticket here and there…you never know, right?

  • Astra, my kids weren’t really into sports. One year, my son did want to be on the football team, but he was one of a zillion and never as good as the ones that got to play all the time, so after a year, he dropped out. My daughter took gymnastics, ballet, jazz dance, etc, but she’d end up dropping out, too. They’ve both since graduated from college and somehow we survived those years. Sigh.

    • Thanks Monica. I guess whether they are or are not into sports, the message is still the same: always put a little away for their education 🙂
      I suspect I too will survive!

  • When my daughter was looking at colleges, I was surprised at how relatively affordable Canadian universities were, compared to the US schools. Our grandson plays hockey, and I can’t believe how much time and money that activity takes up — and he’s only twelve.

    • Always the save vs spend, TV vs sports debate! Hard to strike a balance. Thanks for reading!
      BTW, Canadian universities are subsidized by the government (surprise, surprise).

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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