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Tue, Mar 30, 2010
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Try bond-free scholarships

BY KOH HUI THENG

WHEN he said "no, thanks" to a $300,000 scholarship, Mr Ivan Koh's parents took the news very badly.

His turning down a prestigious Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship in 2008 meant that their second child had snuffed out his chance for an overseas education.

It was at odds with the path their eldest daughter had chosen when she headed for the United States last year for a master's in composing - on a fully funded award from the National University of Singapore.

Mr Koh, 22, who was serving his national service when he applied for the SAF scholarship, said: "I felt that I was not suitable for an army career. After I serve the four-year bond, I'll be 30 years old when I leave the SAF - too old to start a new career."

However, the first-year Nanyang Technological University accounting and business undergraduate was determined not to add to his parents' financial burden.

So, he decided to try for another scholarship, this time with OCBC Bank because it had no strings attached. "I was even prepared to pay my way through school if things didn't work out, either by taking bank loans or finding part-time jobs," he added.

According to Ms Anne Tay, vice-president of group wealth management at OCBC Bank, a four-year university stint in Singapore costs about $39,000 today. Fast-forward a decade and it would cost almost $49,000.

A similar course in Australia would set one back by about $127,000 in 10 years' time.

Next: Scholarships without bonds

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