Financing an undergraduate degree is something that worries many people, but few talk about. That is why today we’d like to share a top line overview on some of the financing options and schemes you can investigate.
The first thing you should do is to see if you qualify for grants. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, many grants have few or even no strings attached. MOE Tuition Grant, for example, is automatically applied to all Singaporean Citizens coming to SUTD (as long as this is your first degree) as there is no bond or associated. Permanent Residents and International Students only have to work in Singapore for three years after graduation.
Next, some scholarships, like the SUTD Undergraduate Scholarship, require you to already receive the MOE Tuition Grant. Others provide a fixed stipend for the course of your study/per annum, so offsetting some of the costs through a grant leaves you with more for expenses.
Similarly, having a grant will help lower your overall loan quantum, if you’re taking one. Thus, you will pay less interest over time.
Grants seek to encourage higher education for different groups of people, some focus on minority races, others for lower-income households. Find out about different available schemes here.
There are many kinds of scholarships, each with varying amounts, eligibility factors and obligations. Some cover your entire tuition and includes living expenses but require a bond and community service. Others have no bond but only partially pay for your tuition and/or living expenses.
There are generally two types of scholarships in SUTD. Firstly, there are those administered by SUTD. For these, you won’t need to submit a separate application when you apply for a course. All you have to do is to indicate your interest, and if you are successful, we will inform you along with your acceptance letter.
The other type of is externally-sponsored scholarships. These are typically not exclusive to courses at SUTD, and applications are made directly to the sponsoring organisations. Thus, you will need to apply separately, as well as fulfil your obligations to the organisation.
To learn more about different scholarships, we keep a handy list of scholarships (both SUTD-administered, and external) here.
The third and most common method of financing your university education is through loans. There are two main schemes, the CPF Education Scheme as well as the Tuition Fee Loan which is administered by any of the three local banks.
CPF Education Scheme
The CPF Education Scheme is by far the more common for three main reasons. Firstly, it covers 100% of the tuition (after the Tuition Grant). Secondly, the payable interest is pegged to the prevailing CPF interest rate (up to 3.5% at the time of writing) which is typically lower than what banks would offer. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the CPF Education Scheme allows you to ‘borrow’ from either your own, or your parents CPF ordinary account, and repayment is made back to that account, including interest. This means that interest would accrue to a family member, rather than a bank.
However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have enough funds in their CPF Ordinary Account (or a CPF account if you’re an international student). This is where Tuition Fee Loans come in. While they do not offer terms as attractive as the CPF Education Scheme, they are still better than general loans. Apart from better interest rates, loans under this scheme are interest-free until graduation. Better yet, you will only need to start repayments upon securing a job, or two years after graduation, whichever comes first. This means that at the very least, you would have a source of income to start repaying your loans.
As you can see, there are various methods to fund your education at SUTD. It is our central belief that no deserving student should be denied a SUTD education because of financial difficulty. As such, we have put the resources in place and are striving to make sure that is a reality.
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