If you’re thinking of heading back to school come September, a simple maneuver now can give you an extra tax boost in the future without costing you a cent.

The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) is similar to the more familiar Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP): you can use money from your RRSP to help you with your current expenses, under the condition that you pay it back over a specified period of time.

But there’s another way to use these plans, besides taking out money you already have sitting there: you can take the money you’ve earmarked for your expenses and drop it into your RRSP for the sole purpose of pulling it back out.

Why bother, you ask?

Because you get an RRSP contribution receipt for that money, even though it only sat in the RRSP for a short time.

So under the LLP you have the option of swinging some money through the RRSP before using it to pay for your schooling, thus collecting a tax receipt on the way without actually spending any extra money. (This is in addition to the education credit you’ll be getting from your school just for being a student.)

But hurry: the money has to be parked there for at least 90 days before you make your withdrawal, so now is the ideal time to do it if you’re going back in September.

The catch is that you will have to repay the amount you withdrew in order to keep that tax credit, but you have 10 years to do that, starting two years after you finish your program, or five years after your first LLP withdrawal, whichever comes first.

You can withdraw up to $10,000 per year under this plan, to a total of $20,000. Also, you must be enrolling full time, and it must be with qualifying school.

What’s a qualifying school? View the definition from the CRA.

You can also learn more about who qualifies, what the rules are, and how to make a qualifying withdrawal from the CRA.