Parents must plan for their children’s education early

Ahmad Dazuki

START saving for your children now so that they won’t need a study loan. Malaysians must be more proactive and the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), said its chief executive Ahmad Dasuki Abdul Majid, is on a mission to drive the mindset change.

Borrowing, he said, is an expense that involves costs, while saving is an investment that brings dividends.

“Public perception is that PTPTN’s role is only to give out loans. But that’s only part of what we do.

“Since 2004, we’ve been providing saving facilities to help parents fund their children’s education, ” he said, adding that making consistent deposits from the day the child is born, is crucial.

The 45-year-old former Penang PTPTN general manager replaced Wan Ahmad Wan Yusoff who retired in October last year.

Ahmad Dasuki, whose appointment took effect on Jan 21, is on a mission to make PTPTN synonymous with savings.

“Take the Lembaga Tabung Haji and Employees Provident Fund for example.

“People look to these bodies to help them save for the haj pilgrimage and retirement.

“Similarly, we want parents to see PTPTN as a saving fund for their children’s education, ” he said at an interview in KL on Feb 27.

Introduced 16 years ago, the corporation’s National Education Savings Scheme’s (SSPN) takaful protection, he said, could address the dropout problem in institutions of higher learning.

“With SSPN, our future graduates won’t be saddled with education loans.

“Even if they still need to borrow, at least it’ll be minimal.”

He said the SSPN-i and SSPN-i Plus saving schemes let young Malaysians continue their tertiary education without being burdened by debt.

“Now under the 2020 Loyalty Reward programme, those who have deposited with SSPN-i before 2017 will get a 1% reward on savings made from Feb 5 to April 30 on top of the yearly dividend payout.”

He said PTPTN sets aside between RM3bil and RM3.5bil yearly for the benefit of some 180,000 students.

The majority of borrowers – or 55% of all borrowers – are from the low income group and they receive the maximum amount allowed.

PTPTN’s main challenge, he said, is to get borrowers who have never made a single repayment, to start doing so now on a monthly basis - even if they can only afford to pay a minimal amount.

“We’ll have to look into their finances to see why they are unable to pay even a single sen.

“Some may still be jobless but if that’s the case, it’s their responsibility to approach us.

“The borrower can even arrange for repayment until he or she reaches age 60. There’s always room for discussion, ” he said, adding that what’s important is that the borrower makes a monthly commitment to clear the loan.

Last year, PTPTN collected a repayment of RM2.26bil – exceeding its RM2bil target. Urging employers to reward workers by helping to pay off their outstanding loans, he said those who do so would get a tax deduction, regardless of whether the loan was settled in full or paid in monthly instalments, until next year.

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