From the age of 14, Ms Joyce Wong had to work part-time, including tutoring students, to supplement her family's income.
Her father earned $2,000 a month as a purchaser at ST Kinetics. Her mother was a housewife who looked after her and her younger brother.
It was only until Ms Wong secured a bond-free scholarship during her first year at Singapore Management University (SMU) that she could cut back on her part-time work. This allowed her to focus on her studies and a business she had started.
Today, the 27-year-old runs Just Fly It, an enrichment company that offers workshops to expose students and working adults to a career in aerospace and aviation.
She was from the inaugural batch of students who benefited from a scholarship provided by ARA Asset Management and Lim Hoon Foundation (LHF) in collaboration with SMU.
Ms Wong said: "Besides giving me time to focus on my own business, I got to go overseas to see how companies around the world expand their businesses."
At a ceremony yesterday, ARA and LHF jointly pledged an additional $1 million to SMU for the scholarship. This brings the scholarship endowment fund to $4 million and 12 undergraduates will receive scholarships under the ARA-LHF Scholarship, up from the previous eight.
The value of each scholarship will also increase from $7,500 to $10,000 yearly for four years of study.
The bond-free scholarship aims to help students whose family incomes disqualify them from financial assistance schemes but are still struggling financially.
ARA group chief executive John Lim said: "I wanted to help students of the 'sandwiched class' get through their tertiary education without having to worry about finances."
The scholarships are awarded to undergraduates who are Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents and enrolled in SMU's Lee Kong Chian School of Business, School of Accountancy or School of Economics.
Mr Wong Chun Yin, 23, who studies at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, was awarded the scholarship last year. He said: "I can now focus on the things that matter - my studies, extra-curricular activities and spending time with my family - instead of juggling part-time jobs."