Vancouver Island University has teamed up with several school districts to help parents become more aware of the provincial and federal grants available for education.

VIU says students are missing out on millions of dollars in education savings grants from the province because families don’t sign up for them.

This month, information on how to access the money will be shared by the Cowichan, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Campbell River, Parksville-Qualicum, and Port Alberni school districts.

Families with kids from 5 to 8 years old will be encouraged to open a Registered Education Savings Plan to access these education savings grants.

One is the BC Training and Education Savings Grant, a $1200 one-time grant available to children between the ages of 6 and 9.

However, the Unversity’s Office of Community Partnerships says that from Duncan to Cambell River, just 42-per cent of families signed up.

Parents will also be informed about the Canada Learning Bond, a contribution by the federal government into the RESP of a child born since 2004 in a low-income family.

Currently, there is about $44 million in unclaimed Canada Learning Bond grants in the region.

William Litchfield, Associate Vice-President of VIU’s Office of Community Partnerships, says “as little as $500 in the bank dedicated to post-secondary changes conversations around the dinner table and greatly increases the chances that those children will go to university one day.”

He says it’s an opportunity for improvement in the regions VIU serves and points out that “80 per cent of the jobs of the future will require some form of post-secondary training.”

Litchfield says they need to ensure children are taking advantage of every opportunity that will help them attend a post-secondary education institution.