The average cost of tuition fees in Singapore has been increasing almost every year. In fact, many prospective students are taking “gap” years to save up for their college education. Some even give up on their educational opportunity entirely.
We believe that going to college is a necessary key to open doors to better jobs and opportunities. It is not wise for you to forgo your education and skip college just because you think you cannot afford it.
We identify the common ways to finance your college education some people might not even know about.
There are traditional bank loans in Singapore offered to students who are unable to fully finance their tuition fees by themselves. The three most common educational bank loans in Singapore are (1) RHB Educational Loan, (2) POSB Further Study Assist, (3) OCBC Frank Education Loan.
All of these three banks have their own different policies, regulations and repayment plans. The beauty about these three loans is that they have a number of repayment schemes that can fully suit your objectives and financial plan.
It seems like a no brainer to apply for these loans if you are unable to fully finance your tuition fee. However, we think these plans are better suited for overseas education (e.g. Schools in UK/AUS) because there are better alternatives out there in the market if you are studying in an approved local university in Singapore. One such example is the Tuition Fee Loan (TFL).
Tuition Fee Loan (TFL)
The Tuition Fee Loan (TFL) is a governmental educational loan scheme that assists students to pay for their tuition fees. The local universities in Singapore, (1) NUS, (2) NTU, (3) SMU, (4) SUTD, (5) UniSIM, (6) SIT all have different primary agents that administer the TFL scheme. These different agents may have different policies, regulations and repayment plans.
The beauty of the TFL is that it is interest-free (0%) during the course of study (main difference between the TFL and Banks Education Loan). Interests will only be computed and charged upon graduation. Most students who are unable to pay for their tuition fees will usually choose this plan as it offers reasonable interest rates and repayment plans.
That being said, not all students are able to apply for the TFL. Those who do NOT qualify for the TFL are:
- Scholarship holders which covers full tuition fees
- Foreign students paying full school fees amount
- Awardees of full tuition fee subsidy from Mendaki
For more information about TFL, you shoulder ref to your school’s website. The TFL can usually be found under the financial aid section.
CPF Education Scheme
All approved local universities and courses in Singapore allow you to use your CPF savings to pay for your child’s or spouse’s subsidised tuition fees. Meaning to say, you can use either you parents’ or spouse’s CPF to finance your tuition fees.
Do read up on more information on the list of courses covered by the CPF Education Scheme.
Under the CPF education scheme, the CPF account holder can use up to 40% of the accumulated OA savings or remaining OA balance (after accounting for other schemes/housing payments), whichever is lower. For ages above 55 years, the account holder must set aside the retirement sum before he or she is able to use the remaining savings in the OA under the education scheme.
Students (beneficiaries of the CPF education scheme) have to repay the loan one year after graduation or termination of studies, whichever is earlier. 3 months before the loan commences, the student will receive a letter on the loan repayment details. Interests will be computed from the time the savings are withdrawn till the loan is full paid. Interest rates may vary from quarter to quarter and can be found in the CPF website.
Most scholarships offered by private and governmental organizations cover almost 100% of your tuition fee. There are also some scholarships offered by schools that not only cover your tuition fee but also accommodation fees if you want to stay in the college’s hall (e.g. NTU – Nanyang Scholarship).
While it may sound like an extremely good deal, securing scholarships offered by private and governmental organizations may not be as simple as you think. At the very least, students should have outstanding high school/diploma/pre-u results coupled with excellent co-curricular records.
Although scholarships can help alleviate your finances during the course of your study, it is important to understand the consequences and terms and conditions of signing the scholarship award (e.g. years of bond). Consider your options and future before you sign on that dotted line.
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