How much money do you need for University in Singapore?

How much it costs to be a degree holder will give you a headache just thinking about it. Nowadays, more than ever, responsible millennials are getting more involved in their own financial matters, partially lifting the burden on their parents’ shoulder. If you’re one of them, you’re going to want to finish this article.

Well, since the cost varies among universities and different personal lifestyles, I can’t come up with the exact figure for each of you. However, I’ll help you plan out all the costs you should be concerned with.

1. Endless List of Expenses

Tuition Fees

This one is pretty obvious. I’m going to talk about tuition fees of the six large universities in Singapore. The amount varies by universities and by course:

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Singapore Management University (SMU)

Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)

Annual tuition fee ranges from as low as $8,150 for some programs (NTU and NUS) to as high as $146,750 (yikes) for Dentistry and Medicine (unsubsidised). Take the figure you found for the program you’re interested in, times the duration of the course and that’s your tuition fees.

A note on Tuition Grant for Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) and International Students (IS). If you are going to apply for MOE Tuition Grant, you’ll save a whole lot of money. However, you’ll have to work for (at least) 3 years in Singapore, or a Singapore-based company overseas. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay back the subsidised amount, or your certification won’t be recognised by the university you go to.

Accommodation Expense

Photo by Sylwia Pietruszka on Unsplash

Not everyone needs to worry about this. If you’re going to stay with your parents, you can skip this part. If you have your mind set on finding a place to live by yourself, or with a friend, it’ll be both fun and challenging. It’s best to discuss with your parents or guardian(s) beforehand because whether you’re staying in a rental apartment or dormitory, the cost is high in Singapore.

For instance, living in SMU, NTU or NUS dormitory cost you at least $400-500 a month, which is reasonable compared to renting a HDB or condo. Keep in mind, sharing a room with someone reduces your rent significantly, but can you put up with your roommate’s lifestyle?

Living Expense

Photo by Noahs Knight on Unsplash

Food, transport, going out, etc. are considered living expense. This very much depends on your lifestyle. I’ll  do a breakdown of your monthly basic needs:

  • MRT and Bus Monthly Concession Pass: $85
  • Mobile Plan: $30
  • Going out once a week ($30 a week): $120
  • Eating out (Do you cook?): $500
  • Snacks (You’re going to need it): $100

So for the very basic expenses, you’re already down $835 a month. Adding rents and you’ll get $1,235 a month. Let’s use this number for calculation, though we both know it cost (at least) slightly more than that, because there are fees you can’t foresee.

2. Don’t Let The Cost Kill Your Dream

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Though the cost for a Bachelor’s Degree is high in Singapore, there are many ways you can help your parents out during your university years.


Every university has a list of countless scholarships and bursaries you can take advantage of. Providing a decent track record, you should be able to grab one, if not a few.

However, beware of some offers with working bond. It’s a contingency you’ll have to work for a specific company, which sponsors your tuition fees, after you graduates for a few years. It’s bad idea because you don’t know whether you’ll like the company working culture or not. So, select carefully.

Another similar way is you can contact the company you wish to work for, asking if they’re willing to sponsor you through your university years. This has a much lower successful rate, but nevertheless, you’re able to pick the company you’ll end up working for.

Fun fact, Smartly offers scholarship as well. And the application process is the most simple one, too. The deadline is almost over, apply for Smartly Scholarship today!

Tuition Loan

Taking some debt is an option, too. But like all other loans, you need to be extremely careful if you don’t want to be screwed by the banks. Probably the most important factor to consider is interest rate. Ideally, you’ll want an interest-free loan during the university years and only start paying interest after graduation when you have income.

Before applying for tuition loan, I recommend figuring out how many years it takes to fully repay that amount. You already know your tuition fees by now and here’s the salary report for fresh graduates. If possible, you should pay off that debt before having a family.

Have a Job

This is pretty much a must-do. Not only you’ll make extra $400-500 a month, you’ll also have some working experience. It really helps when you apply for that job you wish to have after graduation.

Remember to apply for the job that’s relevant to the field you want to work in. Otherwise, the experience is almost worthless. For example, if you want to be a teacher, give tuition. Inspired by entrepreneurship? Work for a startup!

Budgeting and Save

Budgeting, or setting aside a fixed amount for an expense, is absolutely critical to save money. You should have a monthly budget for food, going out, etc. Don’t lose track of your expenses. There are many other ways to save your way to a degree, too.

3. If You Manage to Have Some Money Saved Up

It’s extremely hard to have leftover money in your undergraduate years. It’s simply because you bear a slightly lower living expense but having very insignificant income.

However, if you brilliantly manage to, my hat’s off to you. Still, you should always invest the savings instead of having it asleep in your bank account. Perhaps, Smartly can help you with that. Find out more about Smartly here.

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