Tips on how to go to University for free

By David Lim

Today, I received my university bills for the semester, the total is a -$800. Yes, that's a negative $800, meaning the school owes me $800 for this semester AFTER deducting all the school fees. Not only are my university tuition fees free, I actually get paid to study. Yes, I am a pure Singaporean, born and bred. I went through NS, my father went through NS and his father was a regular in the pioneer SAF. I'm not even on any scholarships.

You may be wondering, how did I manage to do this? Well, here's a tip, if you are not very well-to-do, but you actually bother to ask around, i.e. Mendaki, CDAC,SINDA and even your own community centres, they do give out bursaries for your education. Even the local universities will source bursaries for you from different private companies and GLCs; all you need to do is apply. My dad is a taxi driver, and my mother is too ill to work hence, I qualified for a number of bursaries. My results are not First Class quality, god knows how hard engineering is in local university, but they are okay, about average. If you are a Malay, even better still, since the Mendaki Tuition Fee Subsidy gives you up to a 100% fee subsidy if your income can match.

The above is a screenshot of the bill from my previous semester. This bill is much cleaner and easier to see the bursary amounts awarded; it also shows an even higher amount re-imbursed to me compared to the total charges incurred.

An explanation of the breakdown:

Original fees are $17k for one semester. MOE subsidises $13k for singaporeans including GST. This is made available to all Singaporeans, rich or poor, bond-free.

Hence, a student would be left with $3825 per semester to pay on his own after the deduction.

Then there are the miscellaneous fees, which will be added to the $3825 earlier accrued.

At this point, the bursary comes in and does its magic. I received a bursary of $4.9k in total for last semester. After deduction, I get to take home $1075.

Hence right now, tertiary education can be free if you bother applying for the relevant financial help. One bursary can be worth anywhere from $800 to even $5000 (I've seen the $5000 ones given out by GLCs like DSO and DSTA). I know a lot of my friends who are also in just a bad financial situation as I am, but some of them just don't want to 'lose face', hence, thei refusal to apply. I think that's ridiculous, is your 'face' worth $30k? $30k by the way is the grand total for 4 years worth of tuition fees in a local university. So, my advice to tertiary students who are not well- to-do, go out and find those bursaries and apply for them. The reason why there is so much money in the reserves of all the self-help groups and the GLCs is because you people are not chasing the money! The money is rightfully ours, belongs to Singaporeans and set aside for the poor, so take what is rightfully yours.

This was reproduced with permission from editors of The Real Singapore.


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