Funding for Caymanian Secondary School Students

Caymanian students enroled in Government schools do not pay tuition fees from primary school to the end of high school (Year 11), but Year 12 is a compulsory year. Therefore, the Government, through the Ministry of Education, has made certain financial scholarships/grants available to families of Caymanian high school students so that they can take A Levels, or their equivalent, and qualify to go to university. The students who leave one of the Government high schools to enter a private school (or ICCI or UCCI) are given what is called ‘Dual-Enrolment’. This simply means that these students are tracked to the end of Year 12.

A Level Students

If a Caymanian Government high school student has the qualifying grades and is formally accepted into the A Level programme at either Cayman Prep & High School (CPHS) or St. Ignatius Catholic School, the student can get funding of up to CI$12,500 towards tuition fees for the first year, and then up to CI$7,000 for the second year of the course. Students do not need to apply to the Scholarship Secretariat for the funding but they must get approval from the Department of Education Services.

Parents need to be prepared to pay for all incidentals, including PTA (Parent Teacher Association) fees, uniforms and external exam fees. To qualify for the aforementioned financial assistance, students need to have achieved a minimum of 5 IGCSE/GCSE/CXC (PE and Life Skills cannot count towards the five) passes at grade C or higher, and have passed English and Mathematics. To qualify for funding in the second year of the course students must achieve a minimum of C, C, C in their AS Level exams at the end of the first year of their A Level course.

Any money received from the Scholarship Secretariat is paid directly to the school and cannot be used for uniforms or any other incidentals. An additional contribution is also made towards books. The Education Council implemented Means Testing for local scholarships as of September 2018. The Means Testing requirements are a part of the application, and require completion in order for the application to be submitted. Scroll down for more information on means testing.

Some children also leave Cayman at age 16 and go to England to take A Levels or a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma at a Sixth Form college. In the UK state school system (government schooling), if a child has a British passport then they are ‘feefree’ until they turn 19 years of age. The Scholarship Secretariat will then contribute up to CI$7,000 towards the student’s living expenses, but only if the A Level/BTEC are not available locally.

Caymanian students who have attended a private school in Cayman, and have been accepted into the A Level programme, having achieved a minimum of 5 IGCSE/GCSE/CXC passes at grade C or higher including English and Maths, can also apply for assistance with the fees for their A Level course. On achieving a successful application these students can get financial assistance of up to CI$7,000 for each of the two years of their A Level course. Students must have achieved grades C, C, C in their AS Levels to get funding for their second year.

Associate’s Degree Students

If a Caymanian Government high school student chooses to finish their secondary education doing an Associate’s Degree at UCCI or ICCI then they can apply for the fees to be paid. However, all students who have not achieved either an A or B grade in English and Maths are mandated to take remedial Maths and English at college level, as well as College Skill classes and Career Classes. History has shown educators that if a student fails English and Maths at IGCSE/GCSE/CXC then they are likely to fail their Associate Level course. That fail then remains in their academic record, affecting their university accumulative performance, the student’s ability to get into other universities, and their ability to get a scholarship to help with funding. The Associate's Degree takes about 2.5 years at UCCI (with 68 credits), 18 months at ICCI (which is a quarter-term institution) and you will graduate with an Associate’s Degree worth 90 credits.

If any other Caymanian student wants to do an Associate’s Degree at UCCI/ICCI, they can also get funding towards both years of their course if they have achieved enough passes in external exams to qualify to take the course.

AP, CAPE & IB Students

Scholarship funding of up to CI$7,000 is available to Caymanian students who are going into their final two years of studying Advance Placements (AP), Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), or the International Baccalaureate (IB). Students must have already completed the first year of their course and have taken the minimum number of courses required by the Scholarship Secretariat in their first year of AP, CAPE or IB, and have achieved minimum grade passes of C/3 or a GPA of 3.25 (with no Ds or Fs).

BTEC Diploma Students

If a student would rather do a course which includes lots of hands-on special project assignments and work experience then they might want to choose a BTEC Level 1, 2 or 3 Diploma, depending on their prior skills, experience and qualifications. The Government high schools in Cayman offer BTEC Level 1 and 2 courses, and CIFEC offers BTEC Level 1 and 2 courses, as well as the first year (only) of the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma. For students to complete their Level 3 Diploma (which is considered the equivalent of taking 3 A Levels) they will need to go to England to take the second year. To qualify for an overseas undergraduate scholarship, students taking the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma will need to finish the two-year course with a minimum grade of triple merit (known as MMM). CIFEC currently offers two BTEC Level 3 Extended Diplomas in Creative Media Film & TV and Business but only to Certificate and not Diploma level (since you can only attend CIFEC for one year and the full diploma is a two year course).

Means Testing

Means testing is in place in order to prioritise those students whose parents or legal guardians have a combined income of less than CI$400,000 per year. This allows for the allocated budget to be utilised for those students who really need the financial support and have less resources to pay for college/ university and its related costs. However, if an applicant is above the threshold but there are “special” circumstances then they may ask the Education Council to consider their application.

The qualifying criteria for a local or overseas scholarship can be quite complicated and vary according to which type of degree or course you choose to take. For detailed lists and application forms see the Scholarship section on the Department of Education's website.

Technical Vocational Study Programmes (TVET)

To be considered for an overseas scholarship for a Technical/ Vocational Study Programme (TVET) such as Auto Mechanics, Computer Engineering, Building Construction Technology or Radiography Technician, you must have 5 higher level GCSE/ CXC subject passes with A, B or C grades including Maths and English Language, or 3 higher GCSE/CXC passes with A, B or C grades with 99 Foundation Maths and English with A or B grades from UCCI or ICCI. Alternatively, you could also have a cumulative high school GPA of 2.75 or higher including Maths and English Language passes with A, B or C grades, or a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in your first year of study at UCCI or other institution with professional or academic work in the desired course of study. Mature candidates will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Scholarship Funding for Tertiary Education & University

In an effort to ensure that Caymanians have the opportunity to fulfil their educational and career goals, the Ministry of Education, District Administration and Lands, through the Education Council and administered by the Scholarship Secretariat, offers scholarships and grants to all Caymanian students who qualify to pursue either a local or an overseas tertiary education.

Students can apply for an overseas scholarship between November 15th and January 31st annually, and a local scholarship between March 1st and April 30th. No late applications are accepted. Students need to apply to a university prior to their scholarship application, but they do not have to have received an acceptance letter prior to applying.

The qualifying criteria for a scholarship varies depending on whether you are aiming to take a Technical and Vocational course, a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s or a PhD. The minimum age at which you can qualify for an overseas scholarship is 17, but the expectation is that you will turn 18 during that academic year. There is no upper age limit on applying for a scholarship.

Undergraduate Degree Scholarships

To be considered for an overseas scholarship to study a Bachelor’s degree programme you must have passed your AP, IB, A Levels, BTEC, SATs or Associate's Degree to a certain criteria set out in the Scholarship Secretariat’s application form.

  • International Baccalaureate (IB): You must have taken and passed the full IB diploma, must have 3 x higher Level IB certificates with a minimum of 13 points, and no grade lower than 4, and 2 x standard Level IB subjects at the 12th grade level with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.25. Alternatively you can have 5 x standard level certificates with no grade lower than 4.

  • Advanced Placement (AP): The points system for APs has recently changed, so please refer to the scholarships website for current AP requirements.

  • A Levels/CAPE: Three A Levels/CAPE Unit 2 with a minimum grade of Grade C/3 in each A Level/CAPE Unit.

  • Associate's Degrees: Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher, or Associate level studies with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.

  • BTEC Level 3: Must have an Extended Diploma with a minimum MMM grade average, SAT score of 1100 or ACT score of 22.

However, The Education Council may award an overseas scholarship to students who do not have advanced standing (IB, A Levels, CAPE, AP) if they meet one of the following two criteria: 1) 7 x GCSE/CXC passes at A or B grade, including Mathematics and English, or 2) A combined cumulative High School GPA of 3.25 or higher and an SAT score of 1100 or ACT score of 22.

Undergraduate Funding Levels & Subsequent Years

To maintain your scholarship, you must achieve a 2.75 GPA or a 2:2 in the first year of study, and a 3.00 GPA or a 2:1 in your subsequent years. The Education Council has a requirement that you do at least 12 credits per semester/term in your first year and then 15 credits per term in the subsequent years. Overall, a Bachelor's degree should take 120 credits to complete. Each year you should be doing a minimum of 30 credits for a four year course, and 40 credits for a three year course.

The Secretariat’s annual audit of your scholarship will measure this and your funding may be suspended if you are taking less than the credit requirements. Funding comes in twice a year and is based on your declared expenses. Qualifying students can get funding of up to CI$20,000 per year for a maximum of four years. If they are reading Medicine then that can be extended to six years and beyond if the student is specialising in a chosen field and needs to take internships. Also, based on budgetary considerations, mandatory summer funding can be made available to students once per degree. This is capped at CI$4,000 and is dependent on specific guidelines being met.

GPA Explained

A GPA — or Grade Point Average — of 4.0 is the equivalent of an A, 3.5 GPA is the equivalent of a B+, 3.0 GPA is the equivalent of a B and a 2.0 GPA is the equivalent of a C. To qualify for an overseas scholarship to attend university, the student must finish with a GPA of at least 3.0 or 3 x A Levels at C grade or above.

Undergraduate Application Process

The application form for an overseas scholarship is not unduly onerous. Applicants must apply online and a number of documents must be uploaded with your online application. These include your completed scholarship application form, your medical certificate, academic/character references, official high school or college transcripts, a passport photo, a personal statement, a degree plan outlining the courses to be taken throughout your programme of study, a letter of acceptance on your chosen course (and any transfer of credits where this is applicable), an Excel spreadsheet with all the costs outlined (tuition, housing, meals, flights, books, etc.) plus your birth certificate along with your Right to be Caymanian/Status Certificate and a cover letter. It is worth noting that the Scholarship Secretariat wants to know that you have looked into your course in great detail. They want to know exactly what modules you will be studying each year and whether there are any specific A Levels (like Maths) that you need to have taken to get into your chosen course.

Another part of the overseas scholarship application process is a mandatory interview for short-listed applicants. That interview includes at least two professionals in the field that the student wants to study. The interview is to determine whether or not the student is ready to undertake the study and whether they understand how they will apply their degree to a job. The panel of interviewers will then score the candidate and determine whether the student is ready, whether they understand the field that they are going to study and whether their university of choice is suitable for them. Some students choose a university because of a family attachment or because the university itself has been a popular choice with other students, rather than because of the course they can take or whether it is the best university for the subject they want to study.

Your parent’s ability to assist financially will be taken into account for all scholarships, and a ‘Declaration of Income and Expenses’ for all sureties will be required to be submitted. You will then have to sign a student bond with your surety if you are awarded a scholarship committing you to a) successfully completing your proposed studies and b) then working in the Cayman Islands for a specific period of time after your studies finish. If you fail to meet either of these two requirements, you will have to repay all the scholarship funds that you have received. Having said that, you have a 12-month window in which you should return to Cayman after your degree finishes, or you can apply to the Council for an extension to your return date if you have the opportunity to gain further experience in your field prior to returning home.

Tracking Undergraduate Scholarship Expenses

Each semester, students must go through a detailed submission process for their scholarship funds to be continued. This process includes submitting a detailed grade and transcript record, along with receipts of how the money they received was spent.

All the paperwork will then be reviewed in great detail. The Scholarship Secretariat reviews the student’s expenditures to ensure that they were applied towards agreed fees/expenses, and then they review the student’s performance and grades. Only after this review is it determined whether the next disbursement of funding can be released. In addition to the Ministry of Education’s scholarships, students can also apply for a private sector scholarship as long as both scholarships do not exceed their total costs.

Although the process of getting a scholarship may seem overwhelming, the Secretariat must have a way of measuring that a student’s performance is within the requirements set by the Education Council. They also require the students to go through a costing procedure. Each student must fill in a spreadsheet which automatically tables their expenses and identifies the different costs which they should be thinking about (tuition, room and board, food, dorm supplies, school supplies, groceries, books, utilities, transportation at university, flights home, etc.).

Masters & PhD Scholarships

Scholarships for a Masters or PhD are available and students must have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or an Upper Second Class Degree (2:1) in their undergraduate degree. They must also have had work experience that is relevant to the course they have chosen to study. Those studying for a Masters Degree can get up to CI$25,000 per year for two years, and those studying for a PhD can get up to CI$75,000 over three to five years.

Private Scholarships

There are numerous private scholarships available in the Cayman Islands, and these can be combined with a government scholarship. The amount available annually varies, but the large law and accounting firms offer between US$20,000–US$30,000 per year. Remember that you will have to keep meticulous records on exactly how you spent your scholarship money and this includes receipts for everything. You will usually be required to work for the firm in your summer holidays and on completion of your degree.

A list of private scholarships can be found on the the Private Scholarships page on Cayman Resident where they have outlined the scholarships by industry. Remember that it is absolutely crucial that you get amazing references from the companies you have been interning with, or from your teachers, and to have some interview practice (should you be invited for one). These companies are looking for the best, most motivated Caymanians who will work hard and give back to the Cayman Islands community in a meaningful way.

Government Scholarships