- Option to take a degree directly OR diploma + top up course to upgrade it to a degree
- Full-time degrees start from $20,000
- Part-time degrees are slightly cheaper at around $18,500
- For diploma + top up route:
- Basic Kaplan diploma costs around $5,000
- Top up ranges from $13,000 to $25,000
- In total: expect to pay $18,000 to $30,000
- Massive range of programmes – check provider & course structure before applying
- Just like Kaplan, there’s a range of direct degree courses + top up options
- Basic full-time degrees start from $20,000
- More expensive degrees (e.g. finance, fashion) hover around $35,000 and engineering degrees go up to $39,000
- For those with relevant diploma, top up degree starts from $15,000
- Standard 3-year course fees range from around $41,000 (business, communications, IT) to $45,000 (science)
- There are also “express” courses (2 years) offered only to those with relevant diplomas or A-level subjects (e.g. you need an A-level pass in Economics/Business/Mathematics to qualify for an “express” Business degree) – $21,000 to $27,500
- Course fees vary depending on partner universities, e.g. $28,400 for University of London econs course vs $35,000 upwards at SUNY Buffalo
- Overall, most courses range from $28,400 to $40,000
- Except specialised courses e.g. logistics ($44,500) and double arts majors (from $59,000 onwards)
Back to top
Choosing a private university course
Popular courses (e.g. psychology) are offered by many providers, so how can you make the best decision apart from considering the cost?
First, know that there can be a lot of variations between how courses are run. Some partner universities don’t do much quality control and don’t care if their materials are taught by Tom, Dick or Harry. So you might end up being taught by an instructor who isn’t even an expert on the subject.
Also, different universities are recognised for different disciplines. Kind of like how Katong laksa is better-regarded than the laksa from an Ang Mo Kio kopitiam – even if they’re essentially the same thing.
Finally, the quality of the school itself also matters. For example, James Cook University is the most expensive of the lot here, but it’s the only one with an EduTrust Star, the highest Council for Private Education (CPE) ranking in Singapore. That said, the other popular schools also have EduTrust accreditation, just not the highest possible rank.
Yes, the cost of your studies matters, but you also want to make sure that the degree is recognised enough to get you a job with decent pay in the future – otherwise you’ll just be shortchanging yourself.
Back to top
Other costs to consider
Tuition fees may form the bulk of your expenses, but other costs of studying are significant enough that you should budget for them too. These include:
- Course application fees
- Miscellaneous fees – lab, admin, health insurance fees (yes, you will be billed for these!)
- Study materials – textbooks, laptop and anything else you might need to get for school
- Exchange programmes
- Some private uni courses require you to spend a term or semester abroad at the partner university
Then, of course, there are the living expenses that you might incur:
- Accommodation – e.g. staying in hall or renting a shared flat near school
- Lifestyle – meals, socialising, day-to-day costs if you stay in hall
- Travel – during vacations, grad trip
OK, so how do I fund my studies?
$30,000 isn’t a sum that most people can cough up easily. Many parents in Singapore do their best to set aside a university education fund for their kids. But sometimes life happens and it is no longer an option.
Whether public or private, most universities will have resources dedicated to helping students financially with a range of scholarships and loans. For example, NUS has an Office of Financial Aid while PSB Academy has its Accessable Initiative.
However, you can’t just waltz in there expecting to get a loan right away. Obtaining financial aid can be a lengthy administrative process, so start enquiring at least 4 to 6 months before the semester commences.
Here are some ways to fund your studies that you can look into:
Use your parents’ CPF savings
If your parents have funds locked up in their CPF accounts, you might be able to use their Ordinary Account savings to fund your studies. However, it’s only for the local universities – and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it.
Get a scholarship or bursary
If you’re unfazed by the idea of serving a work bond and relatives fawning over you every Chinese New Year (“Wah, Ah Girl scholar leh!”) – and if your grades are top notch – then consider a government scholarship. Apart from the well-known ones like the PSC Scholarship and MOE Teaching Scholarship, check the agencies relevant to your area of study to see if they offer anything. For example, if you’re interested in tech you can investigate IMDA’s scholarships, while social work majors can try MSF’s scholarships.
- Private scholarships & bursaries
If your grades aren’t good enough for a government scholarship, take heart – there are tons of options out there, some so obscure that there’s hardly any competition for them. You can obtain a bursary or scholarship from your university itself or from non-profit organisations like Ngee Ann Kongsi and Mendaki. The non-exhaustive lists on the NUS website and the PSB Academy website should give you an idea of what’s out there. The best way to find a private scholarship is through your school’s financial aid office.
- Bursaries for needy students
If you are from a lower-income family, there are plenty of bursaries you can look into. Alternatively, make an appointment with NCSS to find out if your family qualifies for government assistance.
Get a job
Of course, there’s the old fallback – getting a part-time job in uni. If you find the right gig, it’s a brilliant way to take advantage of weird university schedules, like 3-hour school days and 4-day school weeks.
You might not even have to leave campus to find a part-time job, if your university offers a work-study scheme like NUS.
Take up an education loan
For those planning to study in a local university, the cheapest loan to fund your education is the MOE Tuition Fee Loan, which loans up to 90% of your tuition fees. Note that you have to pay at least 10% of the course fee – a few thousand bucks at least – out of pocket.
- Education loans from banks
If you’re not eligible for the MOE loan, like if you’re planning to enroll in a private uni, you might have to go to a bank to get an education loan. It’s worthwhile to shop around for the lowest interest rate – this is a major commitment that will have an impact on the first few years of your working life! You can easily compare interest rates with MoneySmart’s education loan wizard.