TORONTO -- A recent survey found 75 per cent of families say the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their children's education, and has also caused some to struggle to save for college and university.

The survey by Knowledge First Financial found 40 per cent of parents say the pandemic has made it more difficult to put money aside for their child's post secondary education.

Financial experts like CTV’s Chief Financial Commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid say opening a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) can help.

“Use of an RESP makes all kinds of sense. This is where the government will give your free money to a maximum of $7,200," she said.

Before opening one you should know there are three types of RESPs. There are individual plans, family plans and group plans.

When it comes to group plans each has its own rules, they tend to have higher fees, they're more restrictive and the investment decisions are made for you.

Zohreh Moradi of Newmarket opened a group RESP 20 years ago when her daughter was a baby. A company had contacted her just days after she left the hospital.

“I was thinking about the future and I wanted her to go to university and this would be a huge help in terms of financing," Moradi said.

Moradi says when she missed a deadline to file paperwork to get funding out of the RESP the company withheld the final payment to her daughter of more than $5,000.

“It's very disappointing. I saved 18 years to help my daughter and now I don’t get the last amount of money from the plan or the interest,” Moradi said, adding she “lost it all because of one mistake.”

“It’s not fair.”

Before you sign up with any RESP you should have a good understanding of all the terms and conditions of the plan.

CTV News Toronto reached out to the RESP company that Moradi used on her behalf and they reviewed her case.

They decided to give her the final payment, which helped pay off her daughter’s student loan.

“It's just such a relief. I’m just so relieved," Moradi said.

The best way to save in a RESP is to make monthly or yearly contributions and if you start when children are small the amount you put in, plus the government's portion with compound interest, can really add up over time.

For more information on RESPs check the federal government’s website.