The transition into parenthood is a time that provides parents with immense joy. It is also the start of a long journey that demands great sacrifice.

As a quote goes, “Until you become a parent, you can’t begin to discover your capacity for strength, love and fatigue.”

Of the many heavy responsibilities that come with parenthood, it includes the financial demands of having a child. A report in 2016 estimated that raising a child in Singapore would cost S$360,000 on average and up to S$1milllion on the high end. A bulk of the amount is attributed to the provision for a child’s tertiary education tuition fees and expenses.

And as the government increases the number of university places to 40% of each cohort in 3 years, everyone wants to get a university degree and everyone wants to plan for their children to attend University.

No doubt, the provision of children’s university education cost is one of parents’ top worries.

Cost of University Education in 2017

The entire cost of university education cost is made up of 2 components; Tuition Fees and Cost of Living.

  1. Tuition fees: This is the amount a student has to pay throughout their candidature. The fees are reviewed by the Universities every year and is charged at the rate prevailing at the time one accepts his/her offer of admission
  2. Cost of living: It includes estimated cost of books, supplies, transportation, meals, personal expenses and optional on-campus accommodation.

Tuition Fees 2009-2017

Cost of Living 2017

Total Cost of University Education in 2017

4 years Non-medicine course for a Singaporean= $41,029 + ($6,000 x 4)
=$65,029

As it stands, the total cost of University education costs $65,000 which is almost the cost of an entry-level car! If a couple were to save $500 monthly towards their child’s education, it would take them almost 11 years to reach this amount.

Let’s look at how tuition fees have increased over the years and determine the education inflation rate.

Based on our 1st table, we can derive this:

The tuition fees for Permanent Residents (PRs) and foreigners have increased significantly in the last 8 years due to the progressive lowering of subsidies given to PRs & foreigners over this period. However, it is unlikely this trend will continue.

Cost of University Education in 2035

We use a case scenario of the following:

  • Tuition fees and Cost of Living increase by an average of 4% per year
  • We include the cost of living (without campus accommodation) for the length of the entire course

The Total Cost of University Education in 2035

Non-medicine course (4 years) for a Singaporean

  • S$131,737

Setting aside S$130,000 is not a simple affair for most people. If you have intentions to save for your child’s overseas studies in Australia, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, the amount you need could be tripled!

Saving for your child’s tertiary education demands you to plan as soon as possible so that you have a longer runway to save and grow your savings. Start early so you have the greatest chance of providing your child with this important opportunity that he/she may need.
Notes: Tuition fees have been computed based on the average of the following courses. Non-medicine: NUS (Arts and Social Sciences, Business and Law), NTU (Accountancy and Business and others), SMU (Law & all others). Medicine: NUS

References: 

Tuition fees in 2017

  • NUS: http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ug/UGTuitionCurrent.pdf
  • NTU: http://admissions.ntu.edu.sg/UndergraduateAdmissions/Pages/tf_15.aspx
  • SMU: https://www.smu.edu.sg/about/financial/tuition-fees
  • Cost of living in 2017: http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/financialaid/financial-tuition-fees-coaup.html
  • Tuition fees in 2009: http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/news/1003/PDF/FEES-st-19mar-pA1&A4.pdf