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Government Schemes

Full time local students taking UGC-funded courses are eligible to apply to the Government Student Finance Office (SFO) for financial aid. Assistance is offered through the following schemes. The Government schemes are the main source of financial assistance to most students. If you need financial aid, it is essential that you apply for the assistance under these schemes.

Tertiary Student Finance Scheme (TSFS)

The scheme aims to provide means-tested financial assistance to eligible full-time local students studying in the tertiary institutions.

To be eligible for application, a student needs to:

  • be a registered full-time student taking up an exclusively UGC-funded or publicly-funded student place at a recognized intuition; and

  • have the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong) or have resided in Hong Kong continuously for 3 complete years prior to the commencement of the course.

Interested students have to apply on-line. Means-tested assessment on income and family asset will be conducted for each application. The level of financial assistance depends on the financial condition of the family.

The offer will be in the form of grant and low interest rate loan. Grant is for tuition fee and the academic expenses while loan is for living expenses. The maximum grant for an undergraduate is equal to the tuition fee payable to the recognized institution and the academic expenses for his/her course of study plus the other compulsory fees. The maximum loan for living expenses is $48,370 for 2016/17. The interest will be charged from the commencement date of the loan repayment period. Loan and interest accrued will be paid within 15 years by equal installments, starting from 1 January or 1 July immediately after graduation in normal case. 

Non-means Tested Loan Scheme (NLSFT)

The scheme is to supplement the TSFS to provide financial assistance in the form of loan to eligible students to settle tuition fees. Loan is offered at a cost recovery interest rate. The amount offered is related to the grant and loan a student receives if student has applied for TSFS at the same year. The maximum loan offered would cover the student’s tuition fee.

Interested students have to apply on-line. Income and asset assessment is not required. Students are required to pay a non-refundable administrative fee of HK$260 for application which needed to be settled after deciding to accept the loan.

The NLSFT loan will be paid direct to student’s institution by 2 installments to settle the tuition fees. Interest shall be charged once the loan is drawn down and throughout the study period until the loan is repaid in full. Loan and interest accrued will be paid within 15 years by equal installments.


Generally the application deadline for new students on the above two schemes will be mid to late September of the year. The application deadline for the HKUST continuing students is around mid-April of the year. Details on the schemes can be obtained from the website of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency (SFO).

Starting from 2015/16, students have to apply TSFS and NLSFT through “SFO E-link – My Applications” platform ( Paper submission in normal case will not be accepted. 

Hostel Subsidy

From 2014/15, a hostel subsidy scheme has been implemented under the Community Care Fund programme. The scheme aims to provide needy undergraduates with subsidy to meet student hostel expenses. Students would automatically be considered for the subsidy if they are successful applicants of TSFS/FASP. The actual amount of subsidy received by each eligible undergraduate is to be determined by the student’s level of assistance assessed in TSFS/FASP.

In 2016/17, each eligible student will be offered a hostel subsidy up to $8,790 a year. The subsidy shall be disbursed to students’ bank accounts on semester basis by 2 installments. 

For details, please check the following link:

Additional Academic Expenses Grant for Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

This is a scheme enhancing the academic expenses grant for students with special educational needs (SEN) and financial needs which has been implemented under the Community Care Fund programme starting from 2015/16. The SENs, including specific learning difficulties, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorders, physical disability, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and / or speech and language impairment, must be confirmed by a relevant professional.

Students, who have passed the means-test of TSFS or FASP and confirmed to have one kind of SENs, are eligible to apply. In 2016/17, each eligible student will be offered an additional academic expenses grant of up to $8,320 a year. For details, please visit the following website:

To know more about SEN support, please click into the University's designated website on supporting students with SEN.

Pilot Mainland Experience Scheme

From 2011/12, a five-year pilot Mainland Experience Scheme for Post-Secondary Students is launched by the Hong Kong Government to subsidize post-secondary students participating in short-term internship or learning programs in the Mainland. The objective of the Scheme is to encourage full-time undergraduates, both local and non-local, to learn more about the prevailing social, economic and cultural landscape of Mainland through programs in the Scheme. The experience will also facilitate the long-term career development of students especially those who wish to explore their opportunities in the Mainland. Though the funding has been allocated to the University for five years from 01/07/2011 to 30/06/2016, the University has continued to operate programs under the scheme for a period of up to eight years till 30/06/2019 as funding is still available.


In HKUST, three types of out-of-class programs in Mainland have been put under the Scheme:

  • Exchange

  • Internship

  • Service Learning/Cultural Trips

Subsidies from the Government through this Scheme may help lessen the financial pressure on students and will encourage more students to enhance their out-of-class learning.  Each student will be able to receive subsidy under the Scheme once only (irrespective of the amount of subsidy they receive). The application and award of subsidy is student-based.

The following students are eligible to apply:-

  • Full-time undergraduates, both local and non-local, who plan to participate in Exchange, Internship and Service Learning/Cultural Trips (see “Student Application” below for the Endorsed and Listed Programs) are eligible to apply.

  • Priority will be given to students who have no or minimal Mainland experience and those who have not participated in similar Mainland experience programs before.

Applications from students will be on rolling basis, requiring 10 working days for processing. Prior application is required and backdated application will not be accepted. Please click here to download the Notes to Applicants and Student Application Form. Students are required to submit the completed application forms in pdf format to SFAO by email at Please check the Endorsed and Listed Programs as the participating programs before making your application.

For Schools/Program Offices, the Administrative Guidelines and the Program Endorsement Form are available at SFAO Admin.