Many fail to plan for kids' varsity fees, poll shows

SINGAPORE - Singaporean parents are keen for their children to get a good university education but not enough actually do the financial planning to make it happen, according to an HSBC survey.

It found that 92 per cent of parents polled expect their children to get an undergraduate degree and 53 per cent believe that paying for it is the best investment they can make.

However, almost 37 per cent said they were daunted by the prospect of making decisions about their children's education, and 49 per cent wished they had planned and saved earlier.

The survey also found that only 17 per cent of parents pay fees with investment returns while most rely on their incomes and savings.

Some parents told The Sunday Times that they still place a high priority on education despite the rising costs.

Madam Janet Ng, 49, who has two children, said: "My husband and I told our children very clearly that we're able to pay for them to complete their undergraduate degrees, but only if they study locally. Overseas education might be good, but we cannot afford it."

The poll quizzed 309 parents with at least one child under 23 who is, or soon will be, in a school or tertiary institution.

It found that 82 per cent of parents would consider an overseas university education for their children, with the United States seen as the best choice followed by Britain.

Madam Ng's son is in his first year at Singapore Management University while her daughter starts undergraduate education in August.

She said the fees are being paid from her husband's Central Provident Fund account.

Mrs Angeline Teo, 35, said she is putting aside a monthly sum to save for her 10-year-old son's education.

"School fees are always going up nowadays, so it's better to start saving earlier, just in case," she added.

Fees for polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education and universities have been raised for this academic year, with hikes of up to 8 per cent.

HSBC advised parents to start saving early in order to be able to afford their children's education while also researching to be informed on the choices available.

This article was published on April 27 in The Straits Times.

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