All parents must now open a National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) account in order to qualify for a government study loan.
Under a new ruling that comes into force this year, parents with a monthly household income of less than RM2,000 must have deposited at least RM500 in their account to qualify for a loan under the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).
Parents who earn more than RM2,000 monthly must have saved up at least RM3,000.
PTPTN private higher education loan division manager Abdul Ghaffar Yusop said that only orphans are exempted from this new ruling.
“Parents can deposit as little as RM20 a month. The main advantage of the SSPN is that the Government provides a matching grant of up to RM10,000 for parents who earn less than RM2,000 monthly,” he said.
Abdul Ghaffar was one of the three speakers at the Funding Higher Education talk, held in conjunction with Star Education Fair 2008 which ended yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Other benefits of the SSPN, which is administered by PTPTN, include yearly dividends that are tax-exempt.
In his talk, Abdul Ghaffar advised students to check whether the institution of higher learning they intend to study in is registered with the Higher Education Ministry.
“Make sure that the course you want to do is accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency too. This is important as only courses and colleges that are recognised by these two bodies are eligible for PTPTN loans,” he said.
Star Education Fund manager Richard Foo reminded students to put effort into their scholarship application forms.
“Don’t do it at the last minute. Your application form will determine whether you are called for the scholarship interview,” Foo said, adding that this year the fund will be giving out scholarships worth RM10.3mil from 42 educational institutions to 341 students.
Doreen John, an education adviser with the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange, advised students interested in the United States as a study destination to look for institutions that offer tuition fee waivers.
“More than 300 colleges and universities in the US give tuition fee waivers,” John said.
Another tip was to consider studying in south and central US states, where the cost of living is lower, and at community colleges, where tuition fees are more affordable.