Low-income families seem to struggle with the idea of giving the best education for their children as there are a fear that their children may miss out on opportunities. However, it is important for parents to understand that Singapore’s education system does not deprive low-income household children of opportunities.
There are many tuition agencies that provide free tuition for low-income students in Singapore. And there are various financial assistance schemes available to ensure that children are provided with the necessary subsidies.
Before understanding the different financial assistance schemes and grants that the government provides, it is important to understand the definition of certain terms.
Gross Household Income (GHI) is the combined gross income of everyone in the household. This includes the basic employment income, self-employed income, overtime pay, allowances, cash awards, commissions and bonuses.
Per Capita Income is the average income of each family member in a household which is calculated by dividing the GHI by the number of family members. Now that these terms are defined, here is the financial support provided for lower to middle-income students.
One main financial assistance scheme provided for preschool education is the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS). This is applicable for students whose gross household income is $12000 or less or per capita income is $3000 or less.
They will receive fee assistance depending on their GHI and PCI and it will range from $21 to $170. The subsidy will be directly disbursed to the kindergarten and parents would only have to pay the fee after the subsidy. The KIFAS subsidy can also be granted (under certain circumstances) to non-parent caregivers.
Students will be assessed for the eligibility of the subsidy when enrolling in a new kindergarten and may be reassessed at fixed points after that. Similarly, there is also the KIFAS Start-up grant which is a yearly grant provided to help parents cover the initial costs of enrolling their child in the kindergarten.
The costs include,
- the registration fee
- cost of uniform
- education material and much more.
This grant is available for families with a GHI of $1900 or less or PCI of $650 or less and the child must be a Singapore citizen. Families can receive up to $240 for this grant.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION
In Singapore, Student Care Centres (SCCs) provide care and support for students after school hours. Monthly subsidies for student care fees is given and there is also a one-off grant for enrolment costs. This is under what is called the “ComCare Student Care Fee Assistance scheme”.
Primary school and Secondary school education consist of various experiences, activities, and programmes and some of them would require a certain amount of money to get enrolled in. Taking this into consideration, students receive yearly contributions to their Edusave accounts.
Edusave Merit Bursary
To be eligible for the Edusave merit bursary, a student must
- Be a Singapore citizen enrolled in a government or government aided school, junior college/centralised institute or independent school
- They should not be a recipient of Edusave Scholarship;
- Within top 25% of their level and course in terms of academic performance
- Student must have a good conduct
- Monthly GHI should be below $6,900 or PCI must be below $1,725.
The value of bursary disbursed is as follows:
|Primary 1 to 3||$200|
|Primary 4 to 6||$250|
|Secondary 1 to 5||$350|
|Pre-university 1 to 3||$400|
IMDA’s NEU PC Plus Programme
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) scheme offers students and from low-income households the opportunity to own a new desktop or laptop at an affordable price.
IMDA has enhanced the NEU PC Plus programme to ensure that digital learning is easy for students despite being part of a family that has low household income. There are,
- Additional option of a subsidised second PC for families with three or more school-going children.
- More support for students supported under the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme.
- Students will be fully supported through the iNSPIRE Fund.
What is the eligibility to apply?
The applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Has a permanent disability/ is a full-time student (aged 25 and below) in a Government/Government-Aided School, Junior College, Centralised Institute, Independent School, Specialised Independent School, Specialised School, Institute of Technical Education, Polytechnic or MOE-funded Special Education School
- Gross monthly household income should not go above $3,400 or per capita income should not exceed $900 ($1,125 if there is a permanently disabled household member)
- Full-time students (aged 25 and below) who are unable to co-pay for their PC-Bundle can apply for financial assistance under iNSPIRE Fund.
- Each eligible household can only apply for one PC-Bundle.
- Households with three or more school-going children can apply for a second subsidised PC.
- Past recipients of NEU PC Plus Programme may reapply only after three years from the last deployment to the household.
MOE Independent School Bursary (ISB) Scheme
Singapore citizens in independent schools can apply for financial assistance too. The table below shows the information regarding ISB.
Note: Exam fees for GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels have been waived for all Singapore Citizen students in Government-funded schools from 2015.
The Community Development Councils (CDCs) and Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) came up with a CDC/CCC Bursary for low-income Singapore citizen students. This is paid out every year.
Like the CDC/CCC Bursary, awards are given out based on monthly GHI or PCI of the family. One can apply for both these bursaries at their own schools. Students can reapply each year as well. However, it is important to note that recipients of MOE bursary cannot be a recipient of the CDC/CCC bursary, and vice versa.
Polytechnics and private institutes have their very own financial assistance schemes such,
- Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Foreign Language Grant
- Republic Polytechnic’s Student Pocket Money Scheme (SPMS) & Student Emergency Money Scheme (SEMS)
- SIM (Singapore Institute of Management) GE Bursary
- MDIS (Management Development Institute of Singapore) Scholarship
MOE Financial assistance scheme
Education is the basic right of every child and no child should be left behind and deprived of the opportunity due to a lack of financial stability.
After consideration based on monthly household income and the kind of school your child attends, your child may receive the following under the MOE FAS,
- A full subsidy of $5 per month for school fees.
- A full subsidy of $10 per month for standard miscellaneous fees.
- Free textbooks and school attire.
- $15 transport credit per month if your child takes public transport.
- A $2.90 per meal subsidy for school meals, applicable to 10 meals per school week.
Based on the fact that there are a wide variety of financial assistance schemes, it is evident that no one needs to fear about being part of a low-income household. Every child will be provided with equal opportunities and no one needs to be left behind.