An educated idea takes flight in North Toronto

Local entrepreneur offers way to cash in loyalty points for education

The mention of Aeroplan miles might conjure images of a sunny beach or a plane preparing for takeoff, or perhaps the cosmetics or gift cards for which they can now be swapped. But education?

The brainchild of North Toronto entrepreneur Suzanne Tyson, the HigherEdPoints program invites students, parents, grandparents and generally “nice people” to use Aeroplan miles to help pay for tuition at one of 64 institutions across Canada.

It’s a rewards program that Sebastian Calvo, who has used it to help pay for his sons’ education at St. Michael’s College School in Forest Hill, calls “revolutionary.”

Calvo said he travels “a bit,” but never earns enough loyalty points to take his family of five on a trip. However, applying points to the education program is “certainly enough to knock off a thousand or two on tuition, which is great,” he said.

Tyson developed the program in 2013, after a 25-year career that included stints in postsecondary publishing, Air Miles and a business that matched students with available scholarships. Her goal was to offer parents and grandparents a tangible reward for loyalty points that many of them never use, she said.

“One person might value flight (but) we have lots of parents who say, ‘I want to use this because my child’s education is a priority,’” said Tyson, herself a mother of two.

For every 35,000 Aeroplan miles, HigherEdPoints offers customers a $250 bursary to help pay for their children’s or grandchildren’s schooling.

Many students also use the program to raise money for their own education, Tyson noted.

“They can set up a pooling account and have people donate in thousand-mile increments,” she said.

“If you’ve been shovelling (a neighbour’s) driveway, or babysitting their dog, you’re not likely to ask for cash, but you might ask for some Aeroplan miles,” she said.

About this article:

Posted: May 25 2015 9:13 am
Filed in: NEWS