How Much Does It Cost to Study in Singapore University

By | February 26, 2019

Cost of university education Singapore
Just the other day, I was attending my friend – John’s new born month old celebration party. It was a joyous occasion and we made merry with lots of fun and laughter. He had a lovely baby boy which was just like him. I do appreciate the time taken to organize such meetups, so that we can catch up and mingle. Oh, how I miss those university days when John and I kept mugging real hard for our papers. Of course, it was not all studies and we had runs and cycled much in the cool breeze of the night. Singapore is real hot during the day! Now, work and career is taking a tough toll on all of us and we seldom meet up, what more with a baby now. I don’t blame him. This is a phase in life that we all have to go through. Anyway, we were also talking about the cost of university education these days. They seem to have escalated quite a bit and now he mentioned that he has to start saving for the time his kid enters university. We did a search there and then at his party and came across this site with some wonderful content and we wanted to share. Here it is:

So you’ve just added a new member to your family (congrats!), and you’re now planning ahead and figuring out how much you’ll need to save for the future.

Obviously, food, clothes and other costs quickly add up — but one of the biggest ticket items that you’ll spend on is your child’s education. This is especially the case if you’re hoping that your child will get a university degree!

If you’re wondering how much you should set aside for your child’s education, you’re at the right place. In this article, we walk you through the cost of a university education in Singapore, and break down what you can expect to spend on your child’s tuition fees, hostel fees, transport and food, and more.

How much does a degree cost in Singapore?

While there are plenty of miscellaneous fees associated with getting a university degree, your child’s tuition fees will (by far!) be the most expensive item you’ll have to pay for.

Read on to learn how much university tuition fees cost in Singapore!

Cost of degrees in Singapore: local universities

For most Singaporeans, the obvious choice is to go for a local university — these are more prestigious, and they also come with the added benefit of being subsidized by the Ministry of Education Tuition Grant.

This grant is pretty generous, with the subsidy offsetting approximately 50% to 80% of the standard course fee. This goes a long way in keeping your costs low!

Quick aside: while the MOE Tuition Grant is automatically awarded to all Singaporean citizens, your child won’t be eligible for the grant if they’ve already used it for a prior degree course.

For instance, if your child had earlier graduated with a degree from Nanyang Technological University, and uses the grant to offset their school fees there, they won’t be able to use the grant again if they’re subsequently granted a place in an undergraduate program in National University of Singapore.

Now that’s clear, here’s the cost breakdown of professional degrees in local universities (on a per year basis):

Medicine Dentistry Accountancy Law Engineering
NUS $28,400 $28,400 $9,600 $12,650 $8,200
NTU $33,700 NA $9,400 NA $9,450
SMU NA NA $11,450 $12,650 NA

And here’s the breakdown for non-professional degrees in local universities:

Arts / Social Sciences Computing Business Science
NUS $8,200 $8,200 $9,600 $8,200
NTU $8,200 NA $9,400 $8,200
SMU $11,450 NA $11,450 NA

The total tuition cost you’ll pay also depends on the number of years of study.

If your child opts for a non-professional degree, it typically takes three years to graduate without honours, and four years to graduate with honours. Some direct honours courses can be completed in three years while law and dentistry courses take four years. Medicine courses can possibly stretch out over five to six years.

Bearing this in mind, here’s an approximation of the total tuition cost you might pay for professional degrees…

Medicine Dentistry Accountancy Law Engineering
NUS $142,000 $113,600 $38,400 $50,600 $32,800
NTU $168,500 NA $37,600 NA $37,600
SMU NA NA $34,350 $50,600 NA

And here’s what you should expect to pay for non-professional degrees:

Arts / Social Sciences Computing Business Science
NUS $32,800 $32,800 $38,400 $32,800
NTU $32,800 NA $37,600 $32,800
SMU $45,800 NA $45,800 NA

If you’re thinking of sending your child to other local universities, there’s SUTD which offers four degrees that are less conventional than what you’d find in NUS, NTU and SMU. These degrees include:

  • Architecture and Sustainable Design
  • Engineering Product Development
  • Engineering Systems and Design
  • Information Systems Technology and Design

At SUTD, Singaporeans can expect to pay $13,050 per academic year, regardless of their course. Each undergraduate programme at SUTD spans 3.5 years, so that works out to approximately $45,675 worth of tuition fees.

Cost of degrees in Singapore: private universities

When it comes to private universities in Singapore, the fees payable vary wildly.

Why is this the case? Well, private universities tie up with external degree providers such as University of London, Birmingham City University, and Monash University, and their course fees are highly dependent on the overseas universities that they partner with.

If you’re hoping to keep the cost of your child’s university education low, don’t write private universities off just yet. Some private universities offer express courses which can be completed in just 2 years, which helps push down the total amount payable.

Private universities that are relatively affordable include Kaplan, MDIS and SIM Global. Course fees at these universities range from $18,000 to $30,000, $20,000 to $39,000 and $28,400 to $40,000 respectively.

Basic cost of living: expenses while getting a degree

Tuition fees aside, you’ll also have to set aside a sum of money to fund your child’s basic cost of living. This includes public transport, cost of food and entertainment, and possibly university hostel fees.

Is it more economical to stay at home, or at a hostel?

Here’s a question that we get a lot… does it make more sense to stay at home, or at a hostel? Let’s break down both options, and look at the costs associated with each option.

First, let’s assume that your child stays at home, and they have to take a feeder bus to get to the nearest MRT station. Bearing this in mind, the cheapest way to get around is probably to purchase a Monthly Concession Pass at $85 – this gives them unlimited bus and train rides within one month.

Food-wise, let’s assume the following arrangements:

Lunch at home = 1x per week.

Dinner at home = 2x per week.

Lunch out = 4x per week.

Dinner out = 3x per week.

We’re not taking weekends into consideration here; we’ll get to that in a bit.

Now, let’s assume your cost of cooking at home (or getting takeout from the nearest coffee shop) is $4/meal. If your child eats in school, they might spend $5 to $6 per meal, and if they eat out (at shopping malls near their school), this might increase to $10 to $15 per meal. For simplicity’s sake, let’s take the average cost of a meal out to be $8 per meal.

Here are the relevant calculations:

3 meals at home = 3 x $4 = $12.

12 meals out = 12 x $8 = $96.

Total food costs = $108.

Total food and transport costs for a student staying at home = $193 per month.

For students who stay in the hostel, it doesn’t make sense to get a Monthly Concession Pass. Let’s assume these students take an average of 40 train trips per month, and that they spend $0.59 on each trip. This works out to $23.60 per month spent on travelling.

Now to factor in the hostel fees. If your child stays in a single room in NTU or NUS, you’re looking at approximately $400 and $450 per month respectively. (Do note that student residences such as Prince George’s Park and UTown are more expensive than standard halls).

For students staying in NUS hostels, subscribing to a meal plan is typically mandatory. NUS charges approximately $450 for a meal plan per semester (18 weeks), so this works out to $100 per month. The meal plan caters breakfast and dinner, NOT lunch, so we’ll add in an extra $120 to take lunch into account.

If your child is staying in NTU, the school doesn’t provide any meal plans, and they’ll have to have their own meals at the various food courts scattered around the campus.

Assuming an average of $5 spent per meal, your child might spend approximately $200 per month on lunches and dinners within the school, and $100 on groceries (bread, cereal, spreads) that they use to make breakfast.

Alright, let’s sum that all up:

Total food, transport and hostel costs for a student staying in NTU = $200 + $100 + $23.60 + $400 = $723.60 per month.

Total food, transport and hostel costs for a student staying in NUS = $100 + $120 + $23.60 + $450 = $693.60 per month.

When it comes to financial costs, staying at home is the clear winner.

That said, there ARE other upsides to staying in school. For one thing, your child won’t have to spend a good two to three hours commuting from home to school (and vice versa) everyday. This means that they have more free time to spend studying or taking part in CCAs.

Also, consider the fact that staying in school allows your child to become more independent, and cultivate close friendships. If you ask us, the camaraderie that you experience when staying in a hostel is really incomparable to anything else!

How much should you allocate for a university student’s pocket money?

Here’s a quick recap: students staying at home might spend approximately $193 per month, and those staying in a hostel might spend up to $723.60 per month.

Do note, though, that we haven’t added in what your child might spend on food and entertainment during weekends.

Plus, these are conservative estimates that we’ve taken, and you’ll probably want to be more generous with the allowance that you give your kids (so that they can amass some savings, and that they’re not living from hand to mouth!)

Here are our final calculations, factoring in all miscellaneous costs:

For a student living at home:

Basic living expenses (previously calculated) = $193

Eating out on weekends = $160

Entertainment (movies, karaoke, etc) = $200

Shopping (clothes and other items) = $100

Total amount = $653 per month.

For a student living in a hostel:

Basic living expenses (previously calculated) = $723.60

Eating out on weekends = $160

Entertainment (movies, karaoke, etc) = $200

Shopping (clothes and other items) = $100

Total amount = $1,183.60 per month.

Now, add that to tuition fees, and you get:

4 years (Staying at home) 4 years (Staying at hostel) 5 years (Staying at home) 4 years (Staying at hostel)
MIN ~$64,000 ~$90,000 ~$181,000 ~$213,000
MAX ~$77,000 ~$103,000 ~$208,000 ~$239,000

How much will the cost of a university education rise over the years?

Now, while we’ve laid out the average costs of a university education in Singapore in this article, keep in mind that these are 2019 costs that we’re referring to. Assuming you’ve just had your child, it’ll be a good 19 to 21 years before they enter university, and by that time, the costs will be a lot higher.

More specifically, we know that from 2007 to 2015, the cost of attending university in Singapore increased by 38% on average.

cost-of-university-education-singapore-2

Beyond that, university fees have increased every single year in the past decade or so, with fee increases for local undergraduates increasing by 0.6% to 8% each year.

Now, if you’re hoping that your child will study a prestigious subject (such as Dentistry or Medicine), it’ll be prudent to start saving as soon as possible. Because these degrees are expensive to start off with, even a “moderate” price hike (when calculated in percentages!) can translate into a hefty overall increase.

For instance, NUS increased their tuition fees for their Dentistry and Medicine programmes by 3.6% from 2017 to 2018. Prior to the price hike, students had to pay $27,400 per year, and with the price, they now have to pay an increase of $1,000 per year.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say the average increase in fees moving forward is 4%. Here’s what you’ll expect to pay in 20 years time — ie, in 2039:

Medicine Dentistry Accountancy Law Engineering
NUS $349,990 $279,992 $94,645 $124,715 $80,843
NTU $415,305 NA $92,673 NA $93,166
SMU NA NA $84,663 $124,715 NA

And here’s what you should expect to pay for non-professional degrees:

Arts / Social Sciences Computing Business Science
NUS $80,843 $80,843 $94,645 $80,843
NTU $80,843 NA $92,673 $80,843
SMU $112,884 NA $112,884 NA

Add in allowance for your child, and you’ll be looking at over $100,000 at the very minimum, with costs potentially stretching up to $450,000 to $500,000.

Have you started saving up for your child’s education? Have you ever considered Australia or even the UK? Do you intend to encourage your child to study in a local or overseas university? Let us know.

*This article has been reproduced with permission from https://www.educationsavingsplan.com.sg
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