Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP)

Detailed information for 2020





Record number:


Statistics Canada is conducting the Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP) to gather information from parents and guardians about the strategies they use to prepare for their children's postsecondary education, their financial plans for paying for their schooling, and the barriers to saving for higher education.

Data release - Scheduled for Fall/Winter 2020


Statistics Canada was approached by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to conduct a cross-sectional survey which would examine how Canadians are preparing their children for postsecondary education.

Parents and guardians can prepare in several ways. They can proactively plan for the financing of their children's postsecondary education by putting aside savings for that purpose and by actively participating in government-sponsored mechanisms that facilitate savings for postsecondary education (e.g., Registered Education Savings Plans). They can also prepare in a non-monetary fashion by encouraging, guiding and supporting their children through their early education, thereby laying the groundwork for participation in postsecondary education.

The primary objective of the Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP) is to gather information about the ways in which the parents and guardians of children aged 0 to 17 marshal the monetary and non-monetary resources needed to pursue postsecondary education, including financial saving strategies, families' attitudes and values with respect to postsecondary education, and barriers to saving or planning for education after high school.

The information gathered from the SAEP will be used to inform research, policies and programs that help families plan and save for their children's education after high school, and to determine Canadians' awareness of government programs that help families save for their children's postsecondary education.


  • Education finance
  • Education, training and learning

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is a parent or guardian in households with at least one child between the ages of 0 and 17 as of February 1, 2020 in the ten provinces.

Instrument design

The SAEP questionnaire contains many of the same questions that were used in the 2013 iteration of the survey. Revisions were implemented in collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), as well as internal Statistics Canada development partners such as the Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC) who conducted qualitative tests of the questionnaire and recommended changes which were incorporated when possible.

The 2013 SAEP was conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey. The questionnaire consisted of a subset of questions used in SAEP 2002. The implementation of the 2002 questionnaire followed an extensive reassessment of data requirements, input consultations with academic experts and the client (Employment and Social Development Canada), as well as questionnaire development and questionnaire testing by QDRC.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The survey frame is households in rotation groups that completed their six months in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) between August 2019 and January 2020, therefore its sample design is closely tied to that of the LFS.

The LFS is a monthly household survey whose sample of individuals is representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older across Canada. Excluded from the survey's coverage are persons living on reserves and other Indigenous settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the institutionalized population, and households in extremely remote areas with very low population density. These groups together represent an exclusion of less than 2% of the population aged 15 or over.

Residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are included in the LFS but collection is done at different intervals. They are excluded from the SAEP sample frame.

The LFS follows a rotating panel sample design, in which households remain in the sample for six consecutive months. The total sample consists of six representative sub-samples or panels, and each month a panel is replaced after completing its six month stay in the survey.

The SAEP sample is based on the rotate out group from each LFS collection from August 2019 to January 2020. For the SAEP, the coverage of the LFS was modified to include only those households with at least one child aged 17 and under. Within those households, one child was randomly selected.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-02-04 to 2020-06-20

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

The SAEP is collected by way of self-response electronic questionnaire with telephone interview follow-up. Information is collected from the person who is most knowledgeable about the selected child and any plans for their postsecondary education. Proxy response was not allowed.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Not applicable at this survey stage.


Not applicable at this survey stage.


Not applicable at this survey stage.

Quality evaluation

Not applicable at this survey stage.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

These data are preliminary and will be revised on a monthly basis.

Data accuracy

Not applicable at this survey stage.

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