By the SMU Social Media Team
Everyone knows education is one of the most powerful investments we can make for our future. However, the economic fallout from Covid-19 has exacerbated financial pressures faced by multiple layers of society—including the financial health of some prospective university students and their families.
A first-of-its-kind funding programme by any university in Singapore, SMU Access guarantees eligible students a financial aid package equivalent to 100 per cent of tuition fees, after taking into account all scholarships, bursaries and other grants from all donors and the Singapore government. Unlike most other scholarship programmes, it does not involve an often stressful interview process, and there is no cap on the number of recipients in perpetuity and no minimum GPA to maintain in SMU. SMU Access is also bond-free.
“SMU Access is founded on the belief that no deserving student should be denied an SMU education due to financial difficulties.”
Established in 2017, SMU Access is founded on the belief that no deserving student should be denied an SMU education due to financial difficulties. Designed to empower students from all walks of life to explore their intellectual interests through equal and fair access to tertiary education without worrying about financially burdening their families, SMU Access hopes to enable better education outcomes and long-term upward social mobility.
SMU Access is seed-funded by the Quantedge Foundation Scholarship, a new scholarship programme endowed by Quantedge Foundation—a philanthropic foundation that aims to deliver impactful solutions to social issues and challenges in Singapore. Established by the principals of Quantedge Capital, the Foundation is registered as a Charity and Institution of Public Character since February 2016.
Janice Sui, SMU Accountancy Undergraduate
One student who has personally benefited from the programme is Janice Sui, a first-year Accountancy student.
“The programme has lightened my burden financially since my family is not financially stable,” shares Janice, who was introduced to SMU Access when applying for a bursary.
“Prior to learning about the grant, I was planning to take up loans with local banks as well as rely on school bursaries to finance my education.”
Another SMU Access recipient, Kwek Ming Rong, a first-year Information Systems undergraduate, reveals, “I took a longer education route and given my age, by graduation, I would already be in my late twenties,”
“Having a huge debt in my late-twenties before even starting out on my career would have been a nightmare. It’s a daunting prospect because repaying the loan after graduation would affect the pursuit of my aspirations and my ability to settle down.”
“Having a huge debt in my late-twenties before even starting out on my career would have been a nightmare.”
Janice also reveals that, besides tuition fees, she was worried about her daily expenses such as transport and meals while studying fulltime. And while she tapped on the funds in her mother’s CPF Ordinary Account under the CPF Education Scheme to pay for her polytechnic education, she faced the strain of having to repay it within a year after graduation.
Quek Ming Rong, SMU Information Systems Undergraduate
Recipients of SMU Access are able to offset their tuition fees, after taking into account all scholarships, bursaries and other grants from all donors and the Singapore government. It is open to full-time first-year Singaporean undergraduates in the year of award who reside in 3-room type or smaller HDB flat, and whose family does not own any private property (including overseas), as well as gross monthly household per capita income not exceeding $690. Students are also required to have utilised the Tuition Fee Loan and/or CPF Education Scheme.
Financial assistance schemes such as SMU Access also relieves families, some of which are already experiencing financial struggles, from the pressures of funding a student’s university education.
As Janice explains, “My mother, 45, is the sole breadwinner of the family working as an operator and her take-home salary is below $1,000. My father, 46, stopped working for more than six years as he suffers from severe health conditions which require monthly hospital visits.”
“Financial assistance schemes such as SMU Access also relieves families… from the pressures of funding a student’s university education.”
Prior to receiving financial support from SMU Access, Ming Rong had planned to juggle his studies with a part-time job as a Grab delivery partner. In fact, he had been saving earnings from the part-time gig before starting at SMU, and will now use the earnings from his food delivery stint to support his daily school expenses and cover part of his tuition fees.
“The initiative has relieved our worries of being able to finance my university tuition fees,” says Ming Rong, who graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a diploma in information technology.
“It has also enabled me to give 100 per cent to my studies and even pursue hobbies like cycling. Overall, it has helped me to stay fresh mentally, and healthy physically, while pursuing a full-time education.”
Learn more about SMU Access and other grants and financial assistance available to students here!