Guide to Financing Higher Education with Student Loans in Hong Kong

Study loans are commonly used to get a tertiary education in Hong Kong. For the first 9-12 years of a student’s education, the government gives them the option for free schooling. This opened the door for more children to get a primary and secondary education. Beyond that, which is the tertiary level, is another matter. Students are left on their own to pay for their school expenses.

 

According to the data on StudyLink.com, the tuition fees in Hong Kong varies depending on the university. There are government-funded institutions in this region but you should still expect to pay around HKD 75,000 to HKD 120,000 worth of tuition fees annually. If you add the cost of living in this region, even those provided by the universities, you will expect to spend a lot of money to finish your tertiary education. The site mentioned that an additional HKD 30,000 to HKD 60,000 may be spent on lifestyle expenses.

 

Obviously, it would be very hard for students to pay for their education since they are not yet employed. Their option is to rely on their parents or to get student loans.

 Financing Higher Education with Student Loans in Hong Kong

Type of education loans in Hong Kong

The great thing about studying in Hong Kong is their extensive education loan system. While student loans are offered by private lenders like banks and schools, the main source of these loans come from the Hong Kong government. There are several programmes that provide financial aid to qualified students in the region. This is the reason why you should explore the options provided by the government before you explore student loans elsewhere. The lower interest rates should be enough to entice borrowers to make this they first option.

 

Here are the various study loans according to the WFSFAA (Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency).

 

Tertiary Student Finance Scheme (TSFS)

This scheme aims to provide a means-tested financial assistance through a grant and a loan. The grant is used for the tuition fees, academic expenses, and any compulsory fees demanded by the union. The loan is used for living expenses. You can opt to get the grant and loan in instalments.

  • Qualification: You can qualify for this loan if you are:
    • A part of the University Grants Community-funded or publicly-funded full-time programme.
    • Enrolled in a recognised course and institution, as defined by the programme.
    • Live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or have lived for three years before the start of your course. Does not include those holding a student visa.
    •  Qualified for the programme by your family’s income and assets.

 

  • Application:

The application process will require the submission of documents and also an interview with your parents. You are also qualified to send an application for the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme for Full-Time Tertiary Students.

 

  • Repayment:

Only the loan will be paid back with an annual interest of 1% – which is only charged at the beginning of the repayment period. The repayment period of the loan will begin when you graduate – with the first payment usually on January. The standard repayment plan will take 15 years to complete. In the event that you stop going to school, you will enter repayment immediately.

 

  • For additional loans, the borrower can apply for the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme for Full-time Tertiary Students (NLSFT). This scheme is a publicly-funded programme that is meant to complement the TSFS in providing financial assistance. This monetary aid comes through a loan that is offered to full-time tertiary students to help them pay the required tuition fees of recognised full-time courses. You will be notified of the approval at the same time as the TSFS. The interest of this loan will be bigger but still lower than private loan counterparts.

 

Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-Secondary Students (FASP)

This scheme provides a means-tested financial aid so needy full-time students can pursue post-secondary education programmes that are locally-accredited and self-financed. This programme was made to ensure that all students, regardless of the financial need, can avail of post-secondary education. The financial assistance comes through a grant or loan. Like the TSFS, the grant covers the tuition fees and other school-related fees. The loan covers the living expenses. The grant and loan can be given in full or instalment.

  • Qualification: You can qualify for this loan if you are:
    • A full-time student enrolled in a locally-accredited, self-financing post-secondary education programme for an associate degree or higher diploma. Locally registered programmes are those recognised and listed by the Secretary of Education.
    • Live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or have lived for three years before the start of your course. Does not include those holding a student visa.
    • Have not accepted other financial aid under a publicly-funded programme.
    • Qualified for the programme by your family’s income and assets.

 

  • Application:

The application process will require the submission of documents and also an interview with your parents. You are also qualified to send an application for the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme for Post-secondary Students.

 

  • Repayment:

Only the loan will be paid back with an annual interest of 1% – which is only charged at the beginning of the repayment period. The repayment period of the loan will begin when you graduate – with the first payment usually on January. The standard repayment plan will take 15 years to complete. In the event that you stop going to school, you will enter repayment immediately.

 

  • For additional loans, the borrower can apply for the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme for Post-secondary Students (NLSPS). This scheme is meant to complement the FASP in providing financial assistance. The interest of this loan will be bigger but still lower than private loan counterparts.

 

Extended Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme (ENLS)

This scheme is meant to provide financial aid to needy full-time and part-time post-secondary students or those taking up professional education courses. This programme was made to ensure that all eligible students can take up post-secondary or professional education courses.

  • Qualification: You can qualify for this loan if you are:
    • A full-time or part-time student enrolled in a qualified course.
    • Live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or have lived for three years before the start of your course. Does not include those holding a student visa.

 

  • Application:

The application process will require the submission of documents. It is possible for you to request for another ENLS loan.

 

  • Repayment:

Only the loan will be paid back with an annual interest that is based on the Government’s rate – which is still below the average rate of note-issuing banks. The repayment period of the loan will begin when you graduate – with the first payment usually on January. The standard repayment plan will take 15 years to complete. In the event that you stop going to school, you will enter repayment immediately.

  • For additional loans, the borrower can apply for the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme for Post-secondary Students (NLSPS). This scheme is meant to complement the FASP in providing financial assistance.

 

Consider your options carefully before you make your choice. There are also special study loans known as Student Travel Subsidy for Tertiary or Post-secondary Students and the Community Care Fund Assistance Programmes. Visit the Student Finance Office through the WFSFAA.

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Abigail Wong is the Writer of The New Savvy.

She is a Singapore Management University 2nd year undergraduate specialising in Strategic Management. From Tampa, Florida, she possesses an International Baccalaureate diploma from C. Leon King High School, and previously held the position of Treasurer of the King High School Division of the French National Honour Society and the Science National Honour Society. Abigail is currently acting as President of the French Cultural Club for SMU International Connections, and as a Resident Advisor and Fire Warden for the SMU Residences at Prinsep.

Abigail is a Former Florida Science Olympiad Champion in chemical forensics and protein modelling, and former Health Occupation Student’s Association District Champion in clinical nursing.

In her free time, Abigail enjoys interacting and caring for animals. She has previously volunteered for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay as an Adoption Assistant.

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