The Total Cost of a Singapore School Place

To guide you through what is going to be an expensive, and sometimes frustrating experience, here is the guide to what you'll need to pay upfront – and then to secure - that prized international school place in Singapore. Application fees, registration fees, levies, security deposits... and more!
The Total Cost of a Singapore School Place
By Carli Allan
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What Do I Need To Pay When Applying To An International School In Singapore?

Almost all international schools charge a non-refundable application fee that must be paid when applying for a school place; this covers the administrative costs involved in processing the application and assessments (if required).

Communications specialist at Singapore American School, Charlotte Hewson, adds: “An application must be submitted alongside a non-refundable application fee of $2,500. This ensures your application is valid for consideration for two years in case you are unable to get a spot, or wish to defer your application to the following academic year. “

Once a place is offered, parents are often required to pay an additional enrolment/registration fee and/or deposit to secure their child’s place, which is an average of $3,400. Some schools, such as Canadian International School, will charge a lower enrolment fee for siblings, and may even waive it for a third and subsequent child. This fee is typically deducted from your first term’s fees but is non-refundable if you change your mind or your circumstances change and you no longer need the school place.

As Hewson explains: “Once a family has received confirmation of acceptance, they are required to make payment of $5,000 commitment fee in order to reserve the child’s spot at SAS. This commitment fee is not an additional cost and is deducted from the overall tuition fee paid at a later date.”

Many schools in Singapore charge an annual or one-off facility or building fee, also referred to as a capital or development levy; while some schools will include this in your invoice for annual tuition fees, others require this to be paid earlier to secure your child’s place. This additional payment, which funds the maintenance and replacement of campus facilities, can be a one-off cost of $2,500-7,000 or an annual payment of $700-2,000.

As highlighted in the table below, there is no standard fee structure for international schools in Singapore. So always take the time to check what the school charges overall.

For example, although GEMS World Academy (Singapore) has a high application fee totalling $6,000, it does not charge parents a capital levy or facility fee; this makes a considerable difference to the cost of an education here. As another example, Tanglin Trust School charges $2,675 as an application fee. Instead of a registration fee, it asks parents to pay the first term school fees as confirmation of acceptance; the second term school fees are also payable prior to starting the school. And at St Joseph’s Institution International, families must pay a security deposit of $6,000, which is refunded when the child graduates from the school.

A spokesperson for GEMS says: “When you compare registration and admissions fee across the schools, you need to have a look at them as a whole. If you combine them together, the majority of top schools will be offering more or less the same total joining fees.

“GEMS doesn’t charge any facility, books or technology fees. We are providing the students with all the necessary technologies free of charge. For example, every student in the secondary years receives a MacBook upon joining the school without any charges, and every student in the early and primary years receives an 1:1 iPad for specific projects and activities in the home-classroom.”

It’s not surprising that Singapore’s new wave of affordable schools have the lowest admission fees. OWIS, Middleton International School (Tampines), and GIG International School only charge a single registration fee at time of application; this ranges from $1,030-2,000. Although tuition fees at Invictus International School and The Grange Institution are among the lowest in Singapore, their registration fees of $2,500 and $2,996 respectively are a significant cost to factor in.

A spokesperson for Middleton International School, which has one of Singapore’s lowest admission fees of $1,070, says: “We are an affordable international school. The prices offered have to be sustainable for our families, so Middleton works in creative ways to cut costs such as having a leaner non-academic team.

“We also look at creating a sustainable school with access to resources rather than ownership of it all. Being a part of a group that is well versed and well ensconced in education, the experience as well as economy of scale helps us make it rigorous and more affordable for the parents.”

Next: How do I know if places are available before I apply to a school?

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