Less than half of Singaporean parents are financially prepared for children's education - survey

Primary 1 pupils on the first day of school in 2014. Only 45 per cent of Singaporean parents are financially prepared for their children's education, according to a recent survey on financial awareness of families. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Primary 1 pupils on the first day of school in 2014. Only 45 per cent of Singaporean parents are financially prepared for their children's education, according to a recent survey on financial awareness of families. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Only 45 per cent of Singaporean parents are financially prepared for their children's education, according to a recent survey on financial awareness of families.

The survey, conducted by OCBC Bank in December last year, also revealed that more than half say they are either behind target or have not begun saving.

Forty-six per cent of parents also indicated that their children are not covered by any hospitalisation insurance. Their top reasons for not having any such plans are that "they just have not gone round to doing it, the children are too young and they intend to buy" when their children are older. But 44 per cent of those with children above the age of 11 said they still had not bought a hospitalisation plan for their children.

The survey polled more than 570 respondents who are parents with children below 16 years of age, parents-to-be, and those planning to start a family. The respondents, aged between 25 and 49 and have a monthly household income of above $5,000, were asked about their investment attitudes and financial habits.

OCBC Bank's head of segment management (personal banking), Ms Ng Li Lian, said in a statement that the survey results were surprising. "We would think that today's parents - better educated than parents from previous generations - are financially prepared for their children's education, or at least know what to expect and how to plan for it."

The findings, she added, show that "parents today are not doing enough to plan financially for their children, and we believe many of them do not realise that it is expensive."

The study also found that 35 per cent of parents or parents-to-be think that they will be able to fund their children's tertiary education through savings or fixed deposits.

The survey comes amid rising costs of tertiary education. According to OCBC Bank's estimates, a four-year non-medical degree in a local university will cost Singaporeans $56,000 in 15 years' time, up from $38,000 today. Obtaining the same degree in a private university in the United States will cost about $548,000 - more than twice of what it costs today.

In 15 years' time, the cost of earning a medical degree in Singapore will go up from $134,000 today to $198,000, and $726,000 in the US for a similar degree.