Financial Assistance for Secondary Schools: Middle-Income Families Can Apply Too

Submitted by KiasuEditor


Wondering how school fees will change when your primary school child goes to secondary school?

At KSP, we always recommend planning ahead, and you can use the Ministry of Education’s school fees checker to get an estimate for your secondary schools of interest. 

If your child is attending a government secondary school, the maximum monthly fee is typically S$25, and this consists of school fees and miscellaneous fees. 

For government-aided secondary schools, fees will vary slightly. For instance, those attending Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) can expect to pay a maximum of S$25 a month, while those attending Anglican High School might pay up to S$43 a month. 

But what if your child is interested in entering an independent school?

Independent secondary schools set their own fees, which may range between S$300 and S$600 per month. There are currently eight independent secondary schools in Singapore, and these are:

  1. Anglo-Chinese (Independent)
  2. Hwa Chong Institution
  3. Methodist Girls’ School
  4. Nanyang Girls’ High School
  5. Raffles Girls’ School
  6. Raffles Institution
  7. Singapore Chinese Girls’ School
  8. St. Joseph’s Institution 

Click on the links above to read about the fee structure for each school. You’ll see that there are different payment tiers, according to a student’s nationality and stream (O-Levels vs Integrated Programme).

3 Myths about Financial Aid for Secondary Schools, Debunked

Depending on your family’s financial situation, even the slightest increase in school fees may be cause for concern. In order to get the support that you need, it’s important not to be held back by misconceptions or misinformation, so read on!

Myth 1: Those above the median household income are not eligible for financial assistance

Some parents believe that financial assistance in Singapore is only meant for lower-income families, but this is not always the case. Let’s look at two scenarios.

Scenario A: Your child wants to attend a government or government-aided school.

For such schools, help is available in the form of the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme or FAS. To qualify:

  • Your child must be a Singapore citizen
  • Your gross household income should not exceed $2,750 per month OR your household per capita income should not exceed S$690 per month. (To calculate per capita income, divide your household income by the number of people in the household.)

It is true that the FAS is designed for lower-income families — unless you are in the unlikely situation of having a household income of S$9,000, with 14 or 15 individuals in your home.

Scenario B: Your child wants to attend an independent secondary school.

Independent school fees are significantly higher, which is why more families can qualify for support, via the Independent School Bursary or ISB scheme. 

To be eligible for aid, the following criteria should be met:

  • Your child must be a Singapore citizen
  • Your child is attending an independent school, NUS High School of Math and Science, or the School of Science and Technology.
  • Your family’s monthly gross household income is S$9,000 and below OR your household has a per capita income of S$2,250 and below.

There are different benefit ‘tiers’ for the ISB scheme, which include:

  • 100% subsidy of school and miscellaneous fees, plus additional benefits
  • Fee payment that is comparable to that of a government or government-aided school
  • Fee payment 1.5x that of a government or a government-aided school
  • 33% subsidy of school and miscellaneous fees

To read about the eligibility criteria in detail, you can refer to the 2021 ISB application form. Do note that the form is updated yearly, and there may be changes to the scheme.

You should also use the MOE’s financial assistance checker to see what benefits, if any, your child can qualify for. As an example, a family of five with a household income of S$11,000 is still eligible for a 33% subsidy of school and miscellaneous fees under the ISB. 

Myth 2: If your child did not qualify for the Edusave Scholarship for Independent Schools (ESIS) after the PSLE, you will have to pay full fees for independent schools.

The ESIS is a scholarship offered to top-scoring students attending independent schools. The award value of the ESIS is up to S$2,400 per year, and only Singapore citizens are eligible.

Under the old PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) scoring system, it was those who scored about 260 points and above who would typically be awarded the ESIS for four or six years, depending on whether they chose the O-Level or Integrated Programme stream. 

It’s less clear who qualifies for the ESIS under the new PSLE scoring system, but the MOE’s official line is that this will be “awarded to the top one-third of students admitted to independent schools by PSLE score.”

What if your child doesn’t qualify for the ESIS after Primary 6? Many parents are not aware of this, but there are still chances to do so in subsequent years — get the details here. Parents can also apply for the Independent School Bursary or ISB (mentioned above), which is awarded based on family income.

In addition, independent schools may have their own financial assistance schemes. For instance, a KSP member told us that her teen had narrowly missed out on the ESIS by several points under the old PSLE scoring system, but wanted to attend an independent school. The family was prepared to pay the independent school fees, but someone suggested they read about the ISB, and that’s when they discovered they were eligible to apply.

The family’s ISB application was successful, and they were approved for a 33% subsidy for school and miscellaneous fees. After which, they received an unexpected message from the school — by qualifying for the ISB, they were now also eligible for an internal bursary, which would cover the remainder of the school fees. This teen is now in Secondary 4, with independent school fees fully subsidised for four years, through a combination of the ISB, a school-based bursary, and the ESIS.

Myth 3: The process of applying for financial aid is too complicated 

We understand that no one enjoys filling up forms — neither do we! But it is an unavoidable part of the financial assistance process, and there is no way around it.  

It may help to look at the relevant forms ahead of time, just to see what’s required:

For both of these forms, you will be asked to supply basic information about your household members, including their sources of income, and indicate the additional benefits that your child needs, such as a public transport allowance.

There will also be identity and income documents to submit. Income documents are fairly straightforward if you hold a permanent full-time or part-time job, as all you will have to do is download your CPF statement for the last 12 months, as well as your latest Income Tax Assessment Notice. 

Admittedly, it will be more tedious if your income sources are mostly variable, and you don’t have a personal tracking system (e.g. Excel). Do let the school know if you are overwhelmed by the application process and need assistance. Alternatively, seek help from a loved one — or a social worker — who might be able to help you get organised. With a bit of time and effort, it can be done!

Want more information on financial aid in Singapore? Use the SupportGoWhere search tool to find support schemes for children and youths.

Tue 16/08/2022