From next month, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be increasing subsidies, bursary amounts, and income ceilings for financial assistance to benefit more needy students from primary to pre-university levels, said Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng in Parliament on Monday (5 March).
The monthly gross household income ceiling for mainstream and Special Education students to qualify for the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme will be increased to $2,750, up from the current amount of $2,500, said Ng at his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate over Budget 2018.
Some 6,000 more students will qualify for financial aid under the enhancements. The monthly per capita income ceiling will also be raised from the current $625 to $690.
Students at the secondary school and pre-university levels will also get a full waiver of their school fees and standard miscellaneous fees under the scheme. Primary school students will also have their miscellaneous fees waived.
Pre-university students under the financial assistance scheme will see their bursary quantum increased from $650 to $900.
Students in MOE-funded special education schools will receive assistance with basic schooling expenses, such as school fees, textbooks, school attire and transport.
There will also be an expanded School Meals Programme, which provides students who need financial aid with meal subsidies.
Secondary school students, including those aged 13 and above from special education schools, will receive subsidies for 10 meals instead of seven meals per school week.
Primary school pupils will receive subsidies of $2 per meal, while those in secondary schools will receive subsidies of $2.50 per meal.
The Edusave Merit Bursary income ceiling will also be raised to benefit more students. The ceiling will be raised from $6,000 to $6,900, while the monthly per capita income ceiling will be increased from $1,500 to $1,725.
Primary school pupils will also receive $30 more in their Edusave accounts from next January, and secondary school students will receive $50 more.
The qualifying income criteria for needy students in Independent Schools and Specialised Independent Schools will also be enhanced, which will let 200 more students from middle-income families receive higher fee subsidies.
The enhancements to the financial assistance schemes will cost the MOE some $100 million a year. They will benefit 10,000 more students than previously, placing the total figure at 90,000 students.
To enjoy 33 per cent fee subsidies, the qualifying gross household income has also been adjusted to between S$6,901 and S$9,000. Currently, the amount stands at between S$6,000 and S$7,200.