This article was first published by Aspire.
For most of us, taking a degree – part-time or full-time is not as simple as “I want to take a degree”. Oftentimes, it’s the cost and amount of time we have to commit that is daunting. The time factor requires some sacrifices on Korean dramas, café chillout sessions and clubbing nights, which by the way could save you some money too!
So, on to the most problematic matter at hand for most of us – course fees. How much exactly does one need to save up – or fork out every month – to be able to pay off one’s course fees without taking a bank loan? Bank loans would usually work much better for undergraduates who have just left college or national service – they want to get their studies out of the way before going in the work force.
Ideally, we wouldn’t want to be taking loans for the part-time degree if we are already working. But before anything, we are not advocating for the necessity of taking a degree in order to be successful in one’s career. If you are still stuck in a dilemma of whether you should take a part-time degree, read the article below for some considerations.
What are our choices for universities/institutions?
This really depends on your preference of studying in a local or private university. For local universities, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is the cheapest for degrees in general, regardless whether you are a Singapore citizen, Permanent Resident (PR) or international student; Singapore Management University’s fees are one of the most expensive, even more so than semi-local Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), depending on the course you’re taking.
Of course, convenience is a huge factor for most of us, especially since we are working for the most part of the day. But unless your desired course is only offered by SMU and your financial situation allows it, it would be more advisable taking your part-time degree from the other local universities. Refer to the table below for a clearer idea of the rough course fees at the various local and semi-local universities.
All prices are taken from the respective universities. Course fees vary across different faculties and are expected to increase over the years. Prices are as of AY16/17. All prices are part-time fees except NUS and international student prices.
For private universities such as Kaplan Singapore, PSB Academy and Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) being the more notable ones, course fees tend to be a lot more expensive. There are selected courses that are about the same price as local universities and we’d like to use similar price points for easier reference. After all, if your salary is high enough for you to afford a $40,000 or $50,000 part-time degree, it might be wiser to question the real need for it.
So how much do we need to save a month?
Taking the most expensive price point for Singapore citizens ($12,500 per annum), one would need to save up about $1,050 per month, $1,100 to be on the safe side. For non-citizens, PRs would need to save $1,750 per month for the most expensive part-time courses. You might be thinking, is it even possible to fork out that much money every month from our salaries? We’ve recently shared some ideas about budgeting and spending about $500 every month.
Anyway, for any Singaporean who has at least a $2,000 take-home pay (after deducting 20 percent for Central Provident Fund contributions) should be able to fork out that amount. On the other hand, for PRs, a $2,500 or more take-home pay would be much safer. You wouldn’t want to starve for your degree course, though we’ve probably heard of stories that it is possible. The key idea here is to take your part-time degree without “suffering” way too much.
For private degree courses, though, such as Kaplan Singapore, each instalment is paid every quarter. In those instances, one will need to fork out a larger sum of money. For example, if one were to take a $20,000 part-time business degree at a private institution, he or she will need to fork out $1,250 per month ($150 more than at local universities). Also, one would need to fulfil the instalments earlier – every four months as opposed to every six months or year at the local universities.
The average amount you would need to fork out per month is about $1,100 to $1,800. While the choice of taking a bank loan is open, ideally you would not want to take on liability unless absolutely necessary – paying the extra interest doesn’t make sense unless you have a clear plan of what to do with the extra cash on hand.
Shares Investment and its editorial arm, Aspire, believe that everyone needs financial literacy. We work towards achieving that goal by helping retail investors make more informed investment decisions by presenting well-researched data in condensed and relatable formats, across our websites, magazines and offline events.
Seedly is an everyday personal finance assistant that aggregates your financial data across up to 6 local bank and card accounts and gives you a complete personal financial picture.