facebookIs It Cheaper To Get To University Through JC Or Poly?



Is It Cheaper To Get To University Through JC Or Poly?

profileKenneth Fong


In case you haven’t heard, the O-Level results for 2019 are out.

And as though everyone hasn’t told you enough, here’s a recap of your choices:

  • Junior College (JC) orĀ Millennia Institute (MI)
  • Polytechnic (Poly)
  • Institutes of Technical Education (ITE)

So JC, Poly, or ITE? How much would it cost for you to attend any of the above options in the first place? And most importantly, is it cheaper to get to a university through JC or Poly?

Read on to find out.

TL;DR: JC, Poly, Or ITE? Which One To Attend And How Much Are The School Fees? What If I Want To Go To Uni?

 Cost Per Month

As much as S$335 for independent JCs like Raffles
PolyS$246 - S$249
Millennia InstituteS$19.50
ITENitec: S$35.50

Higher Nitec: S$52.17
  • JC or MI: If you need a structured system and your end goal is a university
  • Poly: If you prefer a hands-on approach to education and want to be ready for the realities of the world (university’s still an option though)
  • ITE: If you’re driven enough, you could excel, enrol in poly and ultimately attend university
  • Want to go to university? Going to JC might save you time and money

The Age Old O-Level Debate: JC Or Poly?

Before we get into the whole debate of which is better, it’s important to be really honest with yourself.

Source: skybanyes | Instagram

Here are some practical questions to reflect upon:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What am I good at doing?
  • Am I better at mugging for exams and do I like a more structured curriculum with a school-like environment?
  • Or am I inclined towards an applied learning approach?

Even if you didn’t achieve the results you desired, don’t worry.

Source: Adventure Time | giphy

It really isn’t the end of the world. You still have:

  1. Millennia Institute

AĀ CentralisedĀ Institute (CI) which offers a 3-year Pre-University course, that leads to anĀ A-Level certification. This qualifies you to apply for a place in a university of your choice, depending on your results of course. Ideal for those who would like to pace their JC education.

  1. ITE

An institute which focuses on public vocational education so that you’re equipped with the pre-employment training you need to get a job. And if you’re really driven, you have the option of enrolling in a local Poly if you perform well academically and have strong CCA records.

So JC Or Poly? Which One Should I Go To?

There’re many factors to consider but we’ll tackle the most critical ones.

University Admission

About 70 to 75 per cent of each JC cohort get into local universities, this is in comparison with about 15 to 20 per cent of the polytechnic population that secures places. The numbers are rising over the years but it’s still largely true that the scholastic nature of aĀ JC education prepares you for university.

But when it comes to finding employment, it pales in comparison with a polytechnic diploma.

Conversely, a look at the various universities’ representative grade profile for polytechnic GPAs will reveal that a poly student will need to maintain a relatively high GPA in order to secure a place in university. So either way you look at it, you’re going to have to work your butt off if your ultimate goal is to get into university.

Life In School

Life in JC isn’t too different from secondary school, save for the fact that the curriculum is more rigorous and more challenging (read: stressful).

Poly life is similar to university life as students are expected to exercise self-discipline with the sudden freedom and autonomy they are entrusted with. So if you’re someone who lacks self-discipline, then maybe JC is a better idea.

What’s The Difference In Cost?

The difference in school fees for JC and poly is HUGE. Then again, the difference in price for attending certain JCs could also be astronomical.

Note: the fees discussed are for Singapore Citizens only, the cost forĀ Permanent Residents (PR) and International Students (IS) will vary.

JC School Fees

The monthly school fee for most Government JCs starts at S$6. If you tag onĀ the monthly standard miscellaneous fee as well as the monthly 2nd-tier miscellaneous fee (S$13.50 each), that brings the school fee for JCs to S$33 a month.

There are exceptions though.

Independent JCs like Raffles Institution (RI) will cost S$300 a month. Yes, a month in RI will pay for almost a year in a Government JC. That’s crazy AF. But have you seen what RI looks like?

Source: Raffles Institution | Facebook

It’ll also cost you a monthly supplementary fee of S$35 to cover the operating costs of school facilities – the swimming pool isn’t going to clean itself. This brings the school fee for independent JCs to S$335 a month (depending on which JC you choose to attend, of course).

Millennia Institute School Fees

Similar to the JCs, the monthly school fee at MI starts at S$6 with the addition of a monthly standard miscellaneous fee of S$13.50.

Source: Millennia Institute

That’s a grand total of S$19.50 per month.

Poly School Fees

The base cost for an academic year in a polytechnic is S$2,900. However,Ā there are other supplementary fees like examination, sports, and even insurance to consider. And they all vary from poly to poly.

 BaseSupplementary Fees & Applicable GSTPayable For An Academic YearMonthly Payable
Republic PolyS$2900S$86.50S$2986.50S$248.86
Singapore PolyS$2900S$91.09S$2991.09S$249.26
Temasek PolyS$2900S$94.10S$2994.10S$249.51
Ngee Ann PolyS$2900S$61.40S$2961.40S$246.78
Nanyang PolyS$2900S$85.40S$2985.40S$248.78

Naturally, there are other “hidden costs” involved too:

  • Food-wise, the JC school canteen definitely sells cheaper food. Whereas poly students can choose from a variety of options. FYI: Singapore Poly has a Starbucks and a McDonald’s.
  • Poly students also have projects which require you to spend on miscellaneous stuff for eg. printouts for a graphic design project
  • And because polytechnics do not require students to wear a uniform, that means you need a decent wardrobe in order to not appear sartorially challenged

ITE School Fees

School fees at ITE differ for Nitec and Higher Nitec.

Source: ITE

For Nitec, it costs S$426 an academic year or S$35.50 a month. Whereas for Higher Nitec, it’ll cost S$626 an academic year or S$52.17 a month.

The Elephant In The Room: Is It Cheaper To Get To University Through JC Or Poly?

Assuming we have two equally outstanding individuals who both wish to do their Bachelor’s of Law in NUS. One sticks to the conventional JC to Uni route, while the other decides to take the Poly to Uni option. We’re also assuming that both qualify for a place at NUS, after completing their A-Levels and getting their Diploma respectively.

Which is cheaper? Let’s do the math.


Cost Of Junior College (JC) to NUS Law

Two Years in JC: S$33 x 2 x 12 = S$792

Four Years in NUS Law: S$12,650 x 4 = S$50,600

Grand Total = S$51,392 (6 years)


Cost Of Independent JC to NUS Law

Two Years in JC: S$335 x 2 x 12 = S$8,040

Four Years in NUS Law: S$12,650 x 4 = S$50,600

Grand Total = S$58,640 (6 years)


Cost Of Temasek Poly (Diploma in Law & Management) to NUS Law

Three Years in Temasek Poly: S$2994.10 x 3 = S$8,982.30

Four Years in NUS Law: S$12,650 x 4 = S$50,600 (assuming no exemptions given)

Grand Total = S$59,582.30 (7 years)



If you’re planning to take the JC route to NUS Law, it’s S$8,190.30 cheaper than if you went the poly route instead. Plus, it’ll give you aĀ one-year headstartĀ on your peer who went to poly (read: faster promotion to partner, and higher pay, sooner).

And even if you do decide to go to Raffles Institution for your A-Levels, you’d still save S$942.30 on top of gaining the prestige and access to a pretty solid alumni network.

That’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask us.

Other Important Dates To Note

After making your choice and doing the math to see if you (or most likely your parents) can afford the school of your choice, here are some other important dates to remember.

  1. The Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE)

The 2019 JAE registration will be held over 5 calendar days.

It opened atĀ 3pmĀ onĀ 14 Jan 2019. And will end atĀ 4pmĀ onĀ 18 Jan 2019.

For candidates with 2018 GCE O-Level Examination Results, you may register online via the JAE-Internet System (JAE-IS) using your JAE Pin. For candidates who do not have their O-Level results, you may register online via the same JAE-IS using your SingPass instead.

  1. Release Of Posting Results

The posting results will be released in the last week of January. The tentative date isĀ 31 Jan 2019. Applicants will be informed via SMS or can check online via the JAE website.

  1. Acceptance Of Offer

Students who are offered a place in a JC or MI must report on 1 Feb 2019. Candidates who are offered a course in Poly will receive an enrolment package by end Feb 2019. While students who are offered a place in ITE should receive an enrolment letter within 3 working days upon the release of the posting results.

There’s More To Life After O-Levels Than Just School

It’s important to keep in mind that whatever your results and whatever your choice may be, school is merely a part of your life. Never stop learning. And never stop striving to become the best version of yourself.

If you’d like a little headstart on your peers, you might also be interested in learning more about the Basics of Personal Finance – it’s invaluable knowledge that no school teaches, but we at Seedly strive to make it easy for you to understand.

About Kenneth Fong
I threw all of my money into the longkang once... because I wanted to see my cash flow.
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