Education is a primary concern for every parent. Affording that education is perhaps the most important factor in achieving that goal. For many parents, choosing a school comes down to which institution is within their budget.
As such, native and expatriate families alike in Singapore often have concerns as their children near secondary school. To obtain a well-rounded education, these families may prefer a private education, or one from an international school. However, these schools have associated fees that public schools do not, making an education within their halls an investment that parents have to consider before committing.
What are the typical secondary school fees in Singapore and what should your family expect to pay? Here’s what you need to know before you sign that paperwork and choose the school that will educate your child. Spoiler: It’s good news!
Public Versus Private Education Costs
Many families who have children in Singapore schools opt for public schooling during the preschool and primary school years. Why? Because kindergarten is made affordable for those in need with assistance from the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme, which can reduce education-related costs to as low as $1.60 per month. The goal is to make early childhood education as accessible as possible for families across the country.
What’s more, public primary schooling is free for Singapore residents! This is why, even if they opt for private education later, many parents choose the budget-conscious schooling option for their children during the primary years.
Still, many parents who have experience with the expatriate educational system prefer private, international or global schools over local offerings – even from the very start! Private schools can legally charge whatever fees they deem appropriate, which can lead to some very high rates in the less competitive market of early childhood and primary school. While private primary schools may charge around $100-$200 monthly for their services, some – such as those using the popular Montessori curriculum – can charge as much as $2,000 every month! Budget is always a concern for families, and this is certainly something to take into consideration!
Singapore Secondary Schools
Secondary school is a different matter. This is when education really begins to matter for many students in terms of preparing them for careers and university studies. This is why so many parents opt for private education or international schooling – and why costs are so much more of a consideration for parents of this age group.
Many parents who have children who have previously attended international or global schools prefer that their children remain in these schools during their entire time in the country. This gives their children consistency and familiarity, both of which are important during these years of the child’s life. It also provides an education that will easily transfer to any area where they might later relocate, making it a solid choice for expatriate families.
Public options for secondary school may cost as little as $5 a month, with additional, miscellaneous fees sometimes being added as needed. Private education, however, begins at around $300 monthly, and can easily surpass $1,500 per month, especially for non-residents of Singapore.
Legal residency plays an important role in school fees. Those who are legal residents of the country will pay much less than those who are temporary or non-residents, and special fees structures exist for families who may need assistance due to emergency relocation. In general, though, expatriate and other non-resident families can expect to pay fees on the higher end of the scale for their child’s secondary education.
Good News for Cash-Strapped Families
What happens if your child is very talented and very driven to succeed, but your family cannot afford a private school education? For many years, the answer was that children would simply have to attend a public school. However, recent government-level changes in the way schools collect and use student fees have introduced subsidies for families in need, allowing even those looking to attend independent, private preparatory schools to better afford their education.
These subsidies are available for all grade levels and vary by school and family circumstance. However, they can typically bring the cost of schooling down to around $25 per month, a much more affordable rate for families who don’t have excessive wiggle room in their budget.
College Preparatory Courses and Associated Fees
For students who plan to attend college after secondary school ends, there is no better way to prepare than so-called “pre-university” programs in Singapore. These two-year booster programs are designed to challenge students and prepare them for university-level coursework, all while continuing to reinforce educational fundamentals.
These courses are a great choice for students and families who have plans for higher education, since they are specifically tailored toward that goal in a way that typical Singapore secondary education simply is not. Opting into these programs seems like a natural next step for these students, but costs can be prohibitive.
These programs are affordable for Singapore residents at only around $5 per month, per child. However, non-residents from ASEAN countries will pay over $1,000 per month as of 2020, while non-resident students from non-ASEAN nations will owe over $1,750 per month! In these instances, it is important to determine whether you feel that these courses are worth the investment for your child or if they might be better served with less expensive options and supplemental tutoring programs.
There is no right or wrong way to educate your child, in Singapore or anywhere else. What is important is that you weigh your family’s budget, your child’s needs, and the provisions of the local and international schools in your area to find the solution that works for all three.