If we’re being perfectly honest, the most expensive part of being a parent in Singapore is right at the very beginning, when you’re going through diapers like crazy and paying top dollar for preschools that promise to turn your kid into the next Elon Musk.
So for most parents, it’s a relief – both financially and psychologically – when your child finally makes it to Primary 1. Nonetheless, every little bit helps, and most of us do appreciate the grants, schemes and subsidies available for schoolgoing kids.
There isn’t really a place where you can find all the subsidies in one place, so we’ve put together this guide to Edusave, PSEA, and all the other schemes available for kids in Singapore from age 7 onwards.
Summary of financial schemes for students in Singapore
Here’s a quick guide to 9 financial schemes in Singapore for school-going kids of various ages and income levels. For the most part, they are for Singapore citizens, though PRs might be eligible for some of them.
Click on the name of the scheme to jump to the relevant section.
|Education scheme||Who’s eligible?||Description|
|Edusave contribution||All students aged 7 to 16||Savings account for education use. MOE contributes $200 to $290 to each student every year|
|Edusave award||Top students from Pri 4 onwards||$250 to $500 award for students who performed exceptionally well|
|Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA)||All students aged 16 to 30||Savings account for post-secondary education use. No contribution from govt, but 2.5% p.a. interest rate|
|Edusave Scholarship (ESIS)||Top students from Pri 6 onwards||$2,400 scholarship for those going to independent schools. Lasts 2 to 6 years|
|MOE Independent School Bursary (ISB)||Lower income students at independent schools||33% to 100% subsidy of school & miscellaneous fees, depending on income level|
|MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS)||Lower income students at all schools (primary to pre-U)||MOE pays for your school fees, textbooks, uniform + gives you $120 transport allowance a year|
|School Meals Programme||Primary & secondary students under FAS or ISB||$14 to $25 weekly meal allowance|
|ComCare Student Care Subsidies||Lower income students aged 7 to 14||Up to $285 a month subsidies for Student Care Centre fees|
|IMDA PC-Bundle Scheme||Lower income full-time students aged 25 and below||Up to 75% subsidy for computer + software + 3 years broadband subscription|
Aren’t school fees in Singapore already subsidised?
Actually, going to school in Singapore isn’t expensive as long as you’re a Singaporean citizen. Citizens enjoy heavily subsidised school fees from primary school right up to university – just check out this table of school fees in Singapore:
|Monthly fees for Singapore citizens||Primary school||Secondary school||Pre-university|
|2nd tier miscellaneous fee||$6.50||$10||$13.50|
(Note that fees are higher if you enrol your child in an autonomous school or independent school. Autonomous school fees range from $3 to $18 a month, and independent schools charge anything from $290 a month.)
To appreciate just how much education subsidies the government is giving Singaporeans, just compare this against how much PRs and foreign students need to pay to go to school here:
|Monthly school fees||Primary school||Secondary school||Pre-university|
|Fees for Singapore citizens||$13||$25||$33|
|Fees for PRs||$155||$260||$340|
|Fees for international students (ASEAN)||$415||$660||$920|
|Fees for international students (non-ASEAN)||$650||$1,100||$1,450|
Singapore universities like NUS, NTU and SMU also have lower fees for citizens compared to PRs and international students. The difference is in the thousands each year.
The point is, education in Singapore is already heavily subsidised by the government for citizens. But schemes like Edusave and PSEA account can help out just a little bit more.
Edusave contributions & awards
Edusave is a multi-tiered programme by MOE, where government funds are given to help students pay for certain school-related stuff.
At the most basic level, there’s the annual Edusave contributions which every Singaporean child (citizen, 7 to 16 years old) can get regardless of academic performance. An Edusave account is automatically opened for you, and the money magically appears in it each year.
Here’s how much students get this year and next:
|School level||Edusave contribution (2018)||Edusave contribution (2019)|
In addition, students from Primary 4 onwards who have performed well or made good progress in academic or non-academic work (e.g. leadership or CCAs) will be rewarded with cash as well, in the form of Edusave awards. There are various awards ranging from Edusave Character Award (ECHA) to Edusave Merit Bursary (EMB).
This is how much the Edusave Merit Bursary award is:
|School level||Edusave award amount|
|Primary 4 to 6||$250|
So, depending on your child’s age and performance, you’re looking at getting anything from $200 to $890 a year from Edusave.
MOE will send an Edusave account statement every year, detailing the past year’s transactions and what’s left. To check how much is in the Edusave account in between statements, you can call 6260 0777 or email [email protected]
Like your CPF, the funds in the Edusave have designated use and you can’t withdraw them as cash like you can with a regular bank account. Instead, whenever you need to pay for something that can make use of the Edusave, the school will give you a form to fill authorising them to deduct the amount from your child’s Edusave account.
If you don’t want the hassle of signing a separate form each time, you can establish an Edusave Fee Standing Order to use the funds to pay for the second-tier miscellaneous fees. Just fill in form and give it to your child’s school.
PSEA account (Post-Secondary Education Account)
Thanks to the government’s Baby Bonus scheme, most Singaporean parents would have rushed to open a CDA account (Child Development Account) in their child’s name the moment the baby is conceived.
As your kid gets older (age 7 for kids born between 2001 and 2005, or age 13 for kids born in 2006 and after), whatever money left in the CDA account will get dumped into a PSEA account, or Post-Secondary Education Account.
At 16 years old or after completing secondary school, the money in her Edusave account will also be transferred into the PSEA account.
The PSEA account‘s main selling point is that it earns 2.5% p.a. interest, just like a CPF account. But, like CPF, you can only unlock the funds for PSEA approved uses:
- Tuition fees at local universities, polytechnics, art schools, ITE, and other approved institutes
- Compulsory hostel fees for certain courses
- Payment of government or CPF education loans
- Siblings’ approved fees and charges for approved programmes
At age 31, this account is closed and any unused funds will be transferred into either your child’s CPF Ordinary Account, or her sibling’s PSEA.
An account statement of your child’s PSEA account is sent every year in March. You may use the funds on an ad-hoc basis, or you can establish a PSEA Standing Order with instructions on withdrawals by filling in the form and handing it to your kid’s school (like with Edusave).
Note to kiasu parents: If you haven’t maxed out your contribution to your child’s CDA, you can still do so after the CDA money is put into his PSEA. You’ll still get the government’s dollar-for-dollar contribution until your child is 18 or when the cap is reached.
Edusave Scholarship for Independent Schools (ESIS)
Most of the top schools in Singapore are classified as “independent schools”, meaning they have some autonomy in how they’re run, and how much school fees they charge. These are the independent schools in Singapore:
- Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
- The Chinese High School
- Hwa Chong Institution
- Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah
- Methodist Girls’ School
- Nanyang Girls’ High School
- Northlight School
- Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)
- Raffles Institution
- Raffles Junior College
- SJI International School
- St. Joseph’s Institution
- School of Science and Technology
- School of the Arts
- Singapore Chinese Girls’ School
- Singapore Sports School
As mentioned in the section on school fees, independent schools in Singapore are much more expensive than public schools. Even if you’re a Singapore citizen, you’ll need to pay upwards of $290 a month for fees.
Although, there has been a recent push to lower school fees for independent schools especially for students of the lower income bracket.
For instance, from 2019, Raffles Institution children from families with a per capita income of $691 to $1,000 will pay $25 (previously $33.50) per month and those families with a per capita income of $1,001 to $1,725 will pay $37.50 (previously $100.50) per month.
One way to defray such costs is through the Edusave Scholarships for Independent Schools (ESIS), which is for top students in independent schools, from Primary 6 onwards.
The Edusave scholarship amount is $2,400 and it lasts from 2 to 6 years.
MOE ISB (Independent School Bursary) Scheme
Alternatively, students from lower income households can get financial assistance if they want to attend an independent school – regardless of performance – with the MOE Independent School Bursary (ISB) Scheme.
Here’s what it looks like:
|Monthly gross household income||Average income per person||School & misc. fee subsidy|
|$6,901 to $9,000||$1,726 to $2,250||33%|
|$4,001 to $6,900||$1,001 to $1,725||70%|
|$2,751 to $4,000||$691 to $1,000||90%|
|$2,750 or less||$690 or less||100%|
Those in the 100% subsidy tier also get:
- Free textbooks & school uniform (secondary school)
- $900 bursary (junior college)
- $120 transport credit a year for public transport
- Full subsidy for exam fees
MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS)
For students who are going to government schools and government-aided schools, you’re already enjoying heavily subsidised fees; nonetheless, there’s an MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) to help with the costs. The requirements for FAS are more stringent:
- Gross household income of less than $2,750/month
- Average income per person (per capita income) in your household of less than $690/month
Here’s a table summarising the benefits you’ll get under this scheme:
|Financial assistance for||Primary school||Secondary school||Pre-university|
|School fee||–||Full waiver||Full waiver|
|Transport||50% subsidy of school bus fare OR $120 credit a year||$120 credit a year||$120 credit a year|
School Meals Programme (ISB and FAS students)
If you’re enrolled in ISB or FAS, you will also automatically receive a small meal allowance under the School Meals Programme.
|School Meals Programme||Primary school||Secondary school|
|Weekly meal allowance||$2 x 7 meals||$2.50 x 10 meals|
ComCare Student Care Subsidies
Another subsidy scheme for lower income households is the ComCare Student Care Subsidies scheme.
If both parents are working and there’s no one to care for your child after school, you can enrol her in a registered Student Care Centre and get up to $285 a month in subsidies.
These are the eligibility criteria:
|Child’s age||7 to 14 years old|
|Citizenship||Child must be Singapore citizen/PR, and at least 1 immediate family member must be Singapore citizen|
|Parents’ employment status||Both parents working at least 56 hours per month|
|Household income||Gross monthly household income $4,000 or less OR monthly per capita income $1,000 or less|
IMDA PC-Bundle Scheme
Computers are indispensable for education these days. For students (up to tertiary level) from lower income families, the IMDA PC-Bundle Scheme subsidises the cost of owning a new computer + software + internet. The PC-Bundle includes:
- Your choice of computer
- 3 years free broadband subscription
- Antivirus software
- Productivity tools
- Internet filtering service
- Delivery & installation
It’s not totally free, but the subsidy is up to 75% (for Singapore citizens), which should help with the costs.
Full-time students aged 25 and below, who are attending a local school (including ITE and polytechnics, but excluding universities) can get the subsidy if their monthly household income is $3,400 or less, or if the average monthly income per person is $900 or less.
If you are on the MOE FAS, you will also qualify for the scheme.
Have you made use of any of these education schemes? Tell us about your experience in the comments!