New income ceiling for CDAC’s student bursaries; more needy families to get help, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

New income ceiling for CDAC’s student bursaries; more needy families to get help

For Madam Pauline Fong and her two school-going daughters, the twice-yearly disbursement of grocery vouchers worth $300 in total and bursaries from the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) have helped with her family’s daily expenses.

To cope with paying bills and her mother’s nursing home expenses, the 45-year-old single mother took on an additional part-time job as an administrative accounts executive in February 2023, on top of her full-time job as a receptionist.

On Dec 3, the council raised the income criteria for the CDAC-Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations bursary.

Under the new criteria, starting from Jan 1, 2024, applicants with a gross monthly household income of below $4,800, up from the current ceiling of $2,400, or a gross per capita income of $1,400, up from the current limit of $800, can apply for bursaries.

This applies to eligible primary and secondary school students. Similarly, the same applies to post-secondary school students applying for the youth empowerment and aspiration programme grant.

CDAC board member Alex Yam said that this move aims to help as many families as possible and match current national income levels, following changes in various support schemes at the national level.

This periodic review ensures CDAC identifies gaps that it can help beneficiaries with, said Mr Yam.

On the scale and timing of the income criteria revision, he said: “Largely, we’re looking at our beneficiary base, as well as income changes in the population.

“We are also keeping a close track of other agencies, especially in the public sector and other self-help groups, on how they have reviewed their own income criteria.”

Mr Yam added: “Incomes have grown, so we want to be able to support those families that we also used to support… Because many of those that require assistance have experienced a growth in their incomes.”

Initially, Madam Fong was worried that that her daughters, Chen Yi Yuan, 12, and Chen Yi Xin, 13, would no longer qualify for CDAC’s bursaries, since the family’s new gross monthly household income exceeded the current income ceiling of $2,400 with the additional income from her second job.

But with the new income ceiling, her daughters can continue to get bursaries of $480 each in 2024, when they progress to Secondary 1 and 2, respectively.

Madam Fong first applied for the bursaries in 2022 as she found it tough to handle all the expenses.

Her 68-year-old mother’s nursing home expenses are about $600 to $800 every month.

“I deposit the bursaries into my daughters’ bank accounts. I use these funds only whenever they need to buy something new for school,” Madam Fong told The Straits Times in Mandarin.

CDAC has disbursed about $5.2 million to 10,624 bursary and grant applicants so far for 2023 as at Oct 25.

Other self-help groups, such as the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) last revised its eligibility criteria in 2018, to a gross per capita income of $1,000 and below, up from $650.

According to Sinda, the revised criteria allow more participants to benefit from its bursaries, disbursing up to $145 a month to secondary school students and giving up to $150 a month to Institute of Technical Education students from low-income families.