For some Singaporean parents, having their child is accepted into a local university is a dream come true. As of 2017, about one in three children of each cohort makes it to a local university.
Singapore’s public universities are a lot less expensive than private or universities overseas, which could sometimes exceed $500,000.
However, unlike during Secondary School or Junior College where many Singaporeans only needed to pay a modest sum for school fees, the costs of local university tuition can run into tens of thousands of dollars yearly even after the MOE Tuition Grant.
The cost is not helped by the fact that universities have consistently raised their fees over the past few years, to account for rising operating costs, the bulk of which goes to covering manpower costs like staff salaries.
Whether you’re matriculating into university this year or in future, this guide will help you and your family plan your finances to determine how they wish to finance your university tuition.
AY18/19 Local University Tuition Fees For Singaporeans
Universities That List Annual Tuition Fees
|Arts & Social Sciences||$8,200||$8,200||$11,450|
|Art, Design, Media||–||$8,200||–|
|Architecture and Sustainable Design||$13,050|
|Engineering Product Development||$13,050|
|Engineering Systems and Design||$13,050|
|Information Systems Technology and Design||$13,050|
Universities That List Full Course Fees
|Aircraft Systems Engineering||$24,390||–|
|Information and Communications Technology||$32,520||–|
|Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering||$24,390||–|
Financing Your University Education
It is important to note the tuition fees listed are paid in a semester-by-semester basis, rather than a lump sum upfront.
This should offer some relief for families unable to provide the cash up front. With shrewd financial planning beforehand, some families can save up the amount needed for their children’s university education.
For those with some financial difficulties, there are various options available to help you afford a university education.
Financial Aid: If your family meets the qualifying criteria, you can apply for financial aid. Some financial aid schemes require you to reapply annually.
Scholarships: These come in a variety of flavours, offered by private companies, government organisations, and charitable foundations. Some scholarships come with a bond, that requires you to work at a particular place for a stipulated length of time.
Perks of scholarships include paying your tuition fees partly or entirely, a monthly allowance, and money to go for exchanges. The monetary value of a scholarship can add up to over $100,000. The attractiveness of scholarships makes securing a scholarship highly competitive.
Post-Secondary Education Account: If you have funds still in your Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA), you can use them to offset the cost of undergraduate programmes at university. For guys who have served National Service, the National Service Housing, Medical and Education (NS HOME) Awards supplements your PSEA by $3,000 for non-commanders and $3,500 for commanders.
CPF Education Scheme: If your parents or relatives have sufficient funds in their CPF Ordinary Account, you can tap on their CPF monies CPF Education Scheme (CPFES) to pay for your school fees. Once you start work, you’ll then repay the amount drawn, plus accrued interest.
Tuition Fee Loan (TFL): If the above options are not available to you, you can apply for the Tuition Fee Loan for up to 90% of the subsidised tuition fee payable. Tuition Fee Loans are provided by the Ministry of Education and administered by DBS and OCBC.
The main difference between the TFL and the CPFES is that the interest rate of the TFL is pegged to the prime lending rates of DBS and OCBC which stand at 4.25% and 5% respectively, which is higher than the CPFES rate of 2.5%. However, the TFL only charges interest after graduation, while the CPFES charges interest from the day the loan is taken.
If you qualify for both schemes and have trouble deciding, the CPF Board has compiled a list of scenarios to find out which scheme will be better for you. You can also use CPF Calculators to calculate your monthly instalment and the length of your loan repayment period.
Should University Tuition Fees Influence The Course You Choose?
While the university tuition fees can add up to no small change, it should not be the only reason behind your choice of course.
Firstly, the starting pay can vary significantly across different faculties. University courses like Medicine, Dentistry and Law are amongst the most expensive, yet they are perennially popular, because their median starting pay usually tops the charts in the General Employment Survey.
Similarly, the relative job security of these courses is reflected in the strong full-time permanent employment rate which ranges between 90% to 100%. The survey also does not account for lucrative opportunities for career progression in these specialised professions, which will further enhance your lifetime earning potential.
At the same time, you shouldn’t be selecting a course just because it appears to have the best career prospects.
Forcing yourself to take up a course that you are uninterested in can turn your university experience into a living nightmare. When this happens, it is unlikely for you to do well in the subject, and the same goes for your career.
DollarsAndSense.sg aims to provide interesting, bite-sized and relevant financial articles.
Learn together with like-minded Singaporeans at the Personal Finance Discussion SG Facebook Group by discussing a range of personal finance topics.
If you have not done so, subscribe to our free e-newsletter to receive exclusive content not available anywhere else.