Financial Assistance for Primary and Secondary Students (School Textbook Assistance / Student Travel Subsidy Schemes / Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges)


Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must pass the means test;
  • The student-applicants must be unmarried Hong Kong Residents, residing with the family of applicants, with right of abode, right to land or valid permission to remain without any condition of stay (other than the limit of stay) in Hong Kong. Students holding visitor visas, two-way exit permits, student visas or who are dependents of non-local students / student-visa / visitor-visa holders are not eligible to apply for student financial assistance; and
  • The schools the student-applicants are attending must belong to the category as stipulated in the following schemes:

Financial Assistance Schemes

The Student Financial Assistance Agency (SFAA) administers the following financial assistance schemes for needy primary and secondary students:

The School Textbook Assistance (TA) Scheme is to provide assistance to needy Primary 1 to Senior Secondary 3 / Secondary 6 students in government, aided, per caput grant schools and local private schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme for covering the costs of essential textbooks and miscellaneous school-related expenses.

The Student Travel Subsidy (STS) Scheme is to provide travel subsidy to needy students receiving formal primary, secondary education or attending a full-time day course up to first degree level in an acceptable institution, residing beyond 10 minutes walking distance from school and traveling to school by public transport.

The Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges (SIA) is to provide subsidy to needy families whose children are full-time students receiving education at primary or secondary level, or full-time students pursuing Yi Jin Diploma programmes or equivalent courses of the Vocational Training Council to meet the Internet access charges for e-learning at home for their children. The subsidy is granted on a household basis. Eligible families will receive a flat-rate cash grant, regardless of the number of children in the family.

Other Financial Assistance - Applicants passing the means test for financial assistance for primary and secondary students, apart from eligible for applying for subsidies mentioned above in accordance with the conditions of individual schemes, are also eligible to apply for other kinds of financial assistance through the attending schools or relevant organizations including education-related schemes under the Community Care Fund Programme, subsidy for activities under the Hong Kong Jockey Club Life-wide Learning Fund, the Internet Learning Support Programme and the Examination Fee Remission (EFR) Scheme etc. The EFR Scheme is to provide assistance to needy students attending public examinations conducted by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). Please refer to the General Examination Circular on Applications for Examination Fee Remission issued by the HKEAA later for details of application and eligibility criteria.

Application Procedures

Application for 2013/2014 is processed in two stages, namely the "Application for Assessment of Eligibility" and the "Application by Scheme". "Application for Assessment of Eligibility" is family-based. The purpose of this part of application is to assess whether the applicant’s family is eligible for financial assistance. "Application for Financial Assistance Scheme(s)" is student-based. The purpose of this part of the application is to allow student-applicants to choose the financial assistance scheme(s) they wish to apply for. Applicant must be the parent or guardian (as recognized under Guardianship of Minors Ordinance, Cap 13) of the student-applicant(s). Otherwise, applicants must explain in detail with proof why this cannot be compiled with in the Application Form. Provided that the reason given is acceptable, the SFAA will continue to process the application. Applicants should submit fresh application for their children for every school year and fill in the form the particulars of all unmarried children residing with them. Besides, each family should submit one application only. Multiple applications from the same applicant will be voided and lead to delay in processing the application. The concerned application procedures are detailed below -

Applicable to those families which have received financial assistance for primary and secondary students (including School Textbook Assistance) in the 2012/13 school year

Families will be provided with the pre-printed, family-based “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” (Form B) for 2013 / 14 starting from mid March 2013, if they have been disbursed with financial assistance for primary and secondary students on or before 1 April 2013 or their 2012 / 13 Eligibility Certificates (ECs) have been submitted and received by the SFAA on or before 1 April 2013, while those families which have received TA in 2012/13 will concurrently receive the pre-printed, student-based “Application for Financial Assistance Scheme(s)” (Form R) (only applicable to student who has been in receipt of TA in the 2012/13 school year) (one Form R for each eligible student, including students who will be promoted to Secondary 1 in 2013 / 14, but not including those who are Senior Secondary 3 students in 2012 / 13). Applicants are required to submit the completed Form B and Form R together with copies of the relevant supporting documents to the SFAA by post before 31 May 2013. If applicants submitting applications in May 2013 have provided all necessary information and can pass the means test, the SFAA will issue “notification of result” to the applicants in late August 2013 and disburse the provisional amount of TA and the family-based SIA before the commencement of the new school year.

Applicable to those families which have received financial assistance for primary and secondary students (excluding School Textbook Assistance) in the 2012/13 school year

Families will be provided with the pre-printed, family-based “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” (Form B) for 2013 / 14 starting from April 2013, if they have been disbursed with financial assistance for primary and secondary students on or before 1 April 2013 or their 2012 / 13 ECs have been submitted and received by the SFAA on or before 1 April 2013. Applicants are required to submit the completed Form B together with copies of the relevant supporting documents to the SFAA by post before 31 May 2013. If applicants submitting applications in May 2013 have provided all necessary information and can pass the means test, the SFAA will issue the student-based ECs to the applicants starting from late August 2013.

Applicants receiving the ECs should select the appropriate Scheme(s) in the ECs for their children and submit the completed ECs to the schools in which the children are attending within the designated period. In general, the SFAA will not accept any EC submitted after the deadline. Schools will certify the student-applicants’ status and attendance and then forward the ECs to the SFAA according to the schedule.

Applicable to those families who newly apply for financial assistance for primary and secondary students

Applying families may obtain the application documents (see items (1) to (4) below) from District Offices or schools or may download them from the SFAA’s website starting from May 2013. The completed application form together with copies of the relevant supporting documents should be submitted to the SFAA by post before 31 May 2013.
 

  1. "Application for Assessment of Eligibility – Form A" [SFAA 7B];
  2. "Guidance Notes on Application for Assessment of Eligibility - Financial Assistance For Primary and Secondary Students (For Form A)" [SFAA 75B];
  3. "Cover Sheet for Supporting Documents" [SFAA 108];
  4. Addressed envelope for submission of application [SFAA 182].

If applicants submitting applications in May 2013 have provided all necessary information and can pass the means test, the SFAA will issue the student-based ECs to the applicants starting from late August 2013.

Applicants receiving the ECs should select the appropriate Scheme(s) in the ECs for their children and submit the completed ECs to the schools in which the children are attending within the designated period. In general, the SFAA will not accept any EC submitted after the deadline. Schools will certify the student-applicants’ status and attendance and then forward the ECs to the SFAA according to the schedule.

Families currently in receipt of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) should apply directly to the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for school-related assistance for their children’s examination fees, expenses on textbook and stationery, transport fares, Internet access charges at home etc. for the 2013/14 school year. They do not need to submit “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” to the SFAA. If the student-applicants are not covered by the CSSA or are applying for the Yi Jin Diploma Fee Reimbursement and/or Fee Reimbursement (Financial Assistance Scheme for Designated Evening Adult Education Courses), such applicants may submit the “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” to the SFAA. The SFAA may request the applicant to submit a copy of the “Certificate of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients (for Medical Waivers)” issued by SWD for verification on whether the student-applicant is a CSSA recipient, if necessary. Families with members in receipt of Old Age Allowance and / or Disability Allowance can still submit the “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” to the SFAA for financial assistance.

All "Applications for Assessment of Eligibility" submitted on or after 1 June 2013 will be handled by the SFAA after the applications received in May are processed. "Notification of result" and/ or EC to these applicants will therefore be deferred.
 

If applicants need to apply for the TA, their "Application for Assessment of Eligibility" should reach the SFAA on or before 31 October 2013 . Otherwise, TA will generally not be released even if they can pass the means test. If applicants submit the “Applications for Assessment of Eligibility” to SFAA on or after 1 November 2013 and can pass the means test, payment of STS (if applicable) to the successful student-applicants may be effected from the date of receipt of application or the date of admission of the student-applicants to school (or the date of cessation of CSSA for students previously in receipt of CSSA), depending on the circumstances of individual cases. If applicants submit their "Application for Assessment of Eligibility" at a date on or after 1 February 2014 (i.e. in the latter half of the 2013/14 school year), partial payment of SIA may be made to the successful applicants provided the applicant can pass the means test.

The SFAA will acknowledge receipt of applications by means of SMS through applicants’ mobile phone numbers or in writing (applicable to applicants who fail to provide Hong Kong mobile phone number) within 20 working days after receipt of the applications. Therefore, applicants are requested to fill in the relevant information accurately. If the local mobile phone numbers or correspondence address provided by the applicants are incorrect, the SFAA may not be able to issue acknowledgement to these applicants. If applicants do not receive any notification from the SFAA within 40 working days after submitting their application form, please call the SFAA enquiry hotlines to check whether the application has been received by the SFAA to avoid delay in application due to wrong / unsuccessful delivery.

Under normal circumstances, the SFAA will not accept any “Application for Assessment of Eligibility” submitted on or after 1 March 2014. The SFAA may give special consideration to cases with exceptional circumstances. If applicants need to apply for student financial assistance on or after 1 March 2014 for their children attending course that commences during the period from 1 March 2014 to 31 May 2014, they should approach relevant institutions for details of the application procedures and deadlines. They should also submit application documents to the institutions, which will forward them to the SFAA for processing.

Applicants who have any enquiries concerning the eligibility and application procedures may contact the SFAA at 2802 2345, or write to the SFAA at Tsimshatsui Post Office Box No. 96824.

The Means Test

The SFAA will use the "Adjusted Family Income" (AFI) mechanism as the means test to assess the eligibility of a family for student financial assistance and its assistance level. The AFI mechanism is based on the following formula:

AFI equals to Gross annual income of the family divided by number of family members plus one

  • Gross annual income of the family includes the annual income of the applicant and his/her spouse; 30% of the annual income of unmarried child / children residing with the family if applicable; and the contribution from relatives / friends if applicable.
  • The members of a family normally refer to the applicant, his/her spouse, unmarried child / children residing with the family and the dependent parent(s) who are supported by the applicant and/or his/her spouse (Please refer to the Guidance Notes on Application for Assessment of Eligibility for definition of “Dependent Parent”).
  • For single-parent families of 2 to 3 members, the ‘plus 1 factor’ in the divisor of the AFI formula will be increased to 2.

Level of Assistance

The AFI eligibility benchmarks for various levels of assistance in the 2013 / 14 school year are listed in the table below. Please note that the AFI is not the average monthly income of a family.

2013 / 14 school year - AFI Groups between (HK$) Level of Assistance
0 – 32,534 FULL*
32,535 – 62,908 Half
> 62,908 Ineligible

* AFI thresholds for full level of assistance for 3-member and 4-member families are $39,385 and $36,234 respectively in the 2013 / 14 school year. For 2-member single-parent families and 3-member single-parent families, they are regarded as 3-member families and 4-member families respectively for determining the AFI thresholds for full level of assistance and calculation of AFI.

Amount of Assistance

School Textbook Assistance

For 2013/14 school year, the Textbook Grant Rates for various forms are listed as follows:

Primary 1 - 6 S1 - S3 SS1 SS2 SS3
Full Grant $3,494 $3,872 $4,194 $3,642 $2,050
Half Grant $1,747 $1,936 $2,097 $1,821 $1,025

 

(Note : The above Textbook Grant Rates have not included the additional flat-rate grant from the Community Care Fund.)

 

Student Travel Subsidy

The subsidy is calculated on the basis of the average unit fare relevant to the districts in which the student studies and resides during term-time.

Subsidy for Internet Access Charges

Full rate of subsidy for Internet access in the 2013/14 school year is $1,300 per household while half rate subsidy is $650 per household.

Payment Arrangements and Payment Dates

The SFAA will release financial assistance by autopay to those students who are confirmed to be eligible for the respective Schemes applied. If the applicant has provided the local mobile phone number in the application form, the SFAA will send SMS to inform eligible applicants of the related payment information. In addition, applicants may also enquire the payment date from the schools their children are attending or check the dates by browsing the SFAA’s website and then cross-check the related bank transaction records Note to ascertain whether he/she has received the assistance in the said batch of payment. TA and SIA will normally be disbursed in August 2013 to applicants who have successfully applied for textbook assistance in the 2012/13 school year and have submitted application for assessment of eligibility for financial assistance together with all necessary supporting documents for the 2013/14 school year in May 2013. Other first-time applicants will normally be disbursed TA and SIA in October. STS payment will also be arranged normally in October to eligible applicants.


(Note: The latest batch payment of School Textbook Assistance (TA), Student Travel Subsidy (STS) and Subsidy for Internet Access Charges (SIA) for the 2013/14 school year has been credited to the bank account provided by eligible applicants by auto-pay during the period of 25 to 27 March 2014. Primary and Secondary students who meet the eligibility criteria of the School Textbook Assistance Scheme for half and full level of assistance will concurrently receive an additional flat-rate grant from the Community Care Fund (CCF). The legends "TXBGR" (for TA and/or SIA), "STA" (for STS) and "CCF-ETA" (for the additional grant from CCF) will normally be shown in the bank passbook or bank statement to indicate the transactions.)