Skip to main content

CPF's primary purpose is for retirement

  • TODAY (19 April 2013) : CPF's primary purpose is for retirement
  • TODAY (09 April 2013) : Time to level the playing field for part-time students


CPF's primary purpose is for retirement
- TODAY, 19 April 2013


  1. We thank Mr James Chia for the suggestions in his letter ("Time to level the playing field for part-time students", 9 Apr 2013).
  2. The primary purpose of the CPF is to help members save for retirement, housing and healthcare needs. The CPF Education scheme was introduced in 1989 to enable members to tap on a portion of their CPF savings for tertiary education. However, as usage of CPF funds for education is not the primary purpose of the CPF, we have limited it to only full-time local tertiary education courses at approved publicly-funded tertiary institutions. It is important to preserve members' CPF savings for their retirement adequacy, especially with improving life expectancies.
  3. We understand Mr Chia's concerns that part-time students should not be disadvantaged in the avenues available to them to finance their education. The Government provides significant subsidies to Singaporean and Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) students pursuing part-time degree programmes at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and SIM University (UniSIM), or part-time diploma programmes at the polytechnics. These subsidies are applicable to Singaporean and PR students who have not already benefited from a government-subsidised undergraduate education or are pursuing their first part-time diploma.
  4. For part-time students who require financial assistance, there are avenues available to help them. Part-time Singaporean undergraduates at NUS and NTU can apply for the Tuition Fee Loan, which covers up to 90% of the subsidised fees payable. Students with a monthly per-capita household income (PCI) of $2,400 and below can also apply for the Study Loan, which can cover the remaining 10% of the subsidised fees. Both the Tuition Fee Loan and Study Loan will be made available to UniSIM students from the July 2013 semester. The MOE Bursary Scheme is also open to Singaporean part-time students pursuing their first undergraduate degree at NUS, NTU and UniSIM or their first part-time diploma at the polytechnics. This is open to Singaporean students with a monthly PCI of $1,700 and below.
  5. Singaporean students can also utilise the funds in their Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) accounts for the payment of tuition fees and compulsory charges for approved programmes, including part-time ones, conducted by the universities, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education, and other approved institutions.

Time to level the playing field for part-time students
- TODAY, 09 April 2013

There is a general consensus on the need to boost our economic productivity to improve the quality of Singapore's growth. One way to do this is by upgrading the labour force's qualifications through education.

To facilitate access to tertiary education, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Education Scheme allows students taking full-time government-subsidised diploma or degree courses at approved local institutions to apply for loans from their own CPF savings or their parents'.

However, the scheme is not open to part-time students because working adults "are in a better position to pay their tuition fees" and have "greater flexibility" on when to commence their studies once they have enough savings, as explained on the CPF website.

At last year's National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also mentioned that the Government needed to safeguard the CPF savings of these students for their homes and their future.

But I say that part-time students should not be left disadvantaged in terms of avenues available to finance their education

Firstly, students who can only pursue part-time courses are already disadvantaged. Their family circumstances make it necessary for them to undertake full-time employment while they pursue their studies.

They may, therefore, have more need for the scheme than students who can afford not to work.

Secondly, the need to safeguard CPF savings is equally important for part-time and full-time students (and their parents).

Since the Government has imposed appropriate safeguards and loan caps for full-time students, these same criteria and restrictions could be applied to part-time students.

The Manpower Ministry should level the playing field.

Giving part-time students access to the scheme does not require government funds. It merely allows them the same opportunity as their full-time peers to unlock their own funds to finance their education.

Upgrading their skills helps them increase their incomes and puts them in a better position to repay their CPF Education Scheme loans, no different from full-time students.

We would then be taking another step towards an equal-opportunity society, and give a greater proportion of our population the ability to upgrade themselves and improve their productivity, which is one of the key goals of our nation.