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The Student Finance Office (SFO) administers a number of financial assistance schemes for needy primary and secondary students, including the School Textbook Assistance Scheme, the Student Travel Subsidy Scheme and the Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges.  Applicants must pass the means test  (please click here for details) and meet the following eligibility criteria:  
 

Student-applicant

  • A student-applicant must:
    • be an unmarried Hong Kong Resident;
    • have the 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; and
    • attend a school belonging to one of the categories of schools as stipulated in the individual financial assistance schemes.
  • Students holding visitor visas, two-way exit permits, student visas only or who are dependents of student-visa / visitor-visa holders are not eligible to apply for student financial assistance.


Applicant

  • Applicant must be the parent or guardian (as recognized under Guardianship of Minors Ordinance, Cap 13) of the student-applicant(s). Otherwise, applicant must explain in detail with proof why this cannot be complied with in the application form. Provided that the reason given is acceptable, the SFO will continue to process the application.
  • Generally speaking, if families currently in receipt of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) have children studying in primary and secondary schools, they should apply direct 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. They do not need to submit “Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes” to the SFO.
     

The School Textbook Assistance (TA) Scheme

The student-applicants must be Primary 1 to Senior Secondary 3 / Secondary 6 students in government, aided, per caput grant schools and local schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme for covering the costs of essential textbooks and miscellaneous school-related expenses.
 

The Student Travel Subsidy (STS) Scheme

The student-applicants must be receiving primary or 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)
The Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges (SIA) provides subsidy to needy families whose children are full-time students receiving education at primary or secondary level, or full-time students pursuing Diploma Yi Jin (DYJ) (known as Yi Jin Diploma (YJD) before 2016) programmes or equivalent courses of the Vocational Training Council (VTC) to meet the internet access charges for e-learning at home for their children (for example, the charges on broadband Internet service or SIM cards provided by operators of fixed or mobile telecommunications services). The subsidy is granted on a household basis. Eligible families will receive a family-based flat-rate cash grant, regardless of the number of children in the family.

 

Application Procedures of Financial Assistance in 2020/21 for Primary and Secondary Students:

  • If families wish to apply for student financial assistance for primary and secondary students in 2021/22, please complete the “Electronic Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes”, upload all necessary supporting documents and submit them together online, according to this Guidance Notes; or complete the Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes according to the Guidance Note and return the completed application form together with all necessary supporting documents to the SFO direct by post preferably on or before 31 May 2021. 
  • After receiving the household application form from the applicant, the SFO will assess whether the applicant’s family is eligible for financial assistance based on the information provided in the application form and supporting documents, and assess the eligibility of the student-applicants on the basis of the eligibility criteria of individual schemes. Applicants should submit fresh application for their children for every school year and fill in the form the particulars of all unmarried child(ren) residing with them.
  • Each family should submit one application only and do not submit the application form again (including electronic application form) [unless advised by the SFO]. Multiple applications from the same applicant will be voided and lead to delay in processing the application.

 

Relevant application procedures are as follows:

Application procedures

1) Applicable to applicants who have been disbursed with School Textbook Assistance in the 2020/21 school year

In or before end May 2021

  • Applicants provided with an Access Code and other relevant information are required to get and complete the pre-filled form, and upload copies of the relevant supporting documents for online submission.
  • Applicants provided with pre-printed form are required to submit the completed pre-printed form together with the supplementary form (if applicable) and copies of the relevant supporting documents to the SFO by post, using the addressed envelope provided. 

End July / August 2021

  • If applicants submitting applications on or before 31 May 2021 have provided all necessary information with supporting documents, met the eligibility criteria and passed the means test, the SFO will release the provisional School Textbook Assistance to eligible student-applicants and Subsidy for Internet Access Charges to eligible families by autopay in end July / August 2021. The SFO will also issue notification of result to applicants in around August 2021.
  • “Notification of Ineligibility” will be issued to those families which cannot pass the means test; have failed to provide the required supplementary information by the deadline set by the SFO; or have withdrawn their applications.

Starting from October 2021

For those students who have been disbursed with the provisional TA, the SFO will re-calculate and determine the amount of subsidies that the applicants are eligible for and release the remaining subsidy amount to the applicants or recover the overpayment from the applicants, as and when the textbook grant rates for the new school year are available (around October 2021), and the school information of the student-applicant has been verified with the database of EDB Starting from October 2021.

 

2) Applicable to applicants who have NOT been disbursed with School Textbook Assistance in the 2020/21 school year or who have children attending P1 in 2021/22   

In or before end May 2021

Applicants are required to complete the electronic application form, upload copies of the relevant supporting documents and submit them together online. Alternatively, applicants may submit the completed application form (SFO7B) Download PDF file together with copies of the relevant supporting documents to the SFO by post, using the addressed envelope provided. The SFO will contact the applicants for supplementary information during the processing period, if necessary.

August 2021

  • If applicants who submit applications on or before 31 May 2021 have provided all necessary information with supporting documents met the eligibility criteria and passed the means test, the SFO will issue the notification of result, the student-based Eligibility Certificate (EC) and the “Guidance Notes on Application for Financial Assistance Schemes” to eligible applicants starting from August 2021.
  • “Notification of Ineligibility” will be issued to those families which cannot pass the means test; have failed to provide the required supplementary information by the deadline set by the SFO; or have withdrawn their applications. 

September 2021

  • Applicants receiving ECs must verify carefully the personal information and selected Scheme(s) pre-printed on the ECs. Applicants should return the completed ECs to the school in which the children are attending within one week after the commencement date of the schools or within two weeks from the issue date of ECs (whichever is the later) for processing.
  • Schools will certify the student-applicants’ enrolment status and attendance and then forward the ECs to the SFO. In general, the SFO will not accept any ECs submitted after the deadline.

October 2021 or beyond

After verifying the returned ECs, the SFO will release financial assistance by autopay to those students who are confirmed to be eligible for the respective schemes they applied. The SFO will send SMS to inform eligible applicants of the related payment information, if the applicants have provided their valid local mobile phone numbers in the application form.
 

(3) Applicable to families who newly apply for financial assistance for primary and secondary students

From May 2021 onwards
May obtain the application documents below from District Offices or schools or may download them from the SFO’s webpage. The completed application form together with copies of the relevant supporting documents listed below should be submitted to the SFO by post.

  1. "Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes " (SFO7B);
  2. "Guidance Notes on Household Application for Student Financial Assistance Schemes" (SFO75B(1)) and “Notes on How to Complete and Return Household Application Form” (SFO75B(2));
  3. "Cover Sheet for Supporting Documents" (SFO108); and
  4. Addressed envelope for submission of application (SFO182).

If applicants opt to complete and submit the electronic application form online, they may access “SFO E-link – My Applications (Financial Assistance Schemes at Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Schemes)” website and refer to the relevant application documents.

  • All applications of financial assistance for primary and secondary students submitted on or after 1 June 2021 will be handled by the SFO after the applications received by end May are processed. Notification of result and release of financial assistance to these applicants will therefore be deferred.
  • The SFO will acknowledge receipt of applications by means of SMS through applicants’ Hong Kong mobile phone numbers or in writing (applicable to applicants who are unable to provide Hong Kong mobile phone number) . 

Starting from August 2021

After completing the eligibility assessment, the SFO will issue notification of result to applicants starting from August 2021.

Deadline for Submission
  • Under normal circumstances (except financial assistance for pre-primary students), the SFO will not accept any “Household Application for Student Financial Assistance Schemes” submitted on or after 1 March 2022. The SFO may give special consideration to cases with exceptional circumstances.

The application deadlines for individual financial assistance schemes are listed below :

  • School Textbook Assistance Scheme: Applicants should submit their “Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes” to the SFO on or before 31 October 2021. Otherwise, School Textbook Assistance will generally not be released even if they can pass the means test and meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Student Travel Subsidy Scheme: For applicants who submit their “Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes” on or after 1 November 2021, pass the means test and meet the eligibility criteria, payment of Student Travel Subsidy (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.
  • Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges: For applicants who submit their “Household Application Form for Student Financial Assistance Schemes” at a date on or after 1 February 2022 (i.e. in the latter half of the 2021/22 school year), partial payment of SIA may be made to the successful applicants provided that the applicants can pass the means test and meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Diploma Yi Jin Fee Reimbursement / Fee Reimbursement (Financial Assistance Scheme for Designated Evening Adult Education Courses): If applicants need to apply for student financial assistance on or after 1 March 2022 for their children attending courses that commence during the period from 1 March 2022 to 31 May 2022, they should approach relevant institutions for details of the application procedures and deadlines. They should also submit application documents to the institutions for onward submission to the SFO for processing.
Payment Arrangements
The SFO will release financial assistance by autopay to those students who are confirmed to be eligible for the respective Schemes applied.
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Last update: 3 May 2021
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