Using your RRSP for tuition: the Lifelong Learning Program

Patricia Bell |

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

… At least according to Ben Franklin. Does it ever make sense to use your hard-earned retirement savings for something other than retirement? Maybe you're not ready to fully retire but want to change the pace of your life and find more fulfilling 'work'. Perhaps you're looking for a second career. Or maybe you are just one of those people who love to learn. Whatever your reasons, it may be advantageous for you to use a little-known government program called the "Lifelong Learning Plan," or LLP, to borrow from your RRSPs.    

The LLP is similar to the much more popular Home Buyer's Plan, but instead of helping you buy your first home, the LLP is used to assist you in paying for post-secondary education costs for you or your spouse or common-law partner.

Under the LLP provision, you can withdraw up to $10,000 from your RRSP tax-free per year (to a maximum of $20,000) if:

1. You are enrolled at a designated educational institution.

2. The program you are taking is a qualifying education program.

3. You are attending full-time. (However, if you meet the CRA's conditions of disability, you may qualify while studying part-time: )


You'll have up to 10 years to repay your LLP withdrawal by making RRSP contributions and designating them as LLP repayments. If you don't make the minimum repayment required in any given year, CRA will assign that year's payment as income, and you will be taxed at your marginal tax rate. You can opt to repay the LLP sooner than required, but whether or not this is a good choice (as there is no "interest" on this money you've lent yourself) should be reviewed. 

If you're considering taking advantage of the LLP, make sure you talk to your advisor. Run through a projection of your income and taxes before making any decisions. Everyone's situation is different, and you'll want to ensure you're making the best choices, for now and for your retirement.


The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.


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