PETALING JAYA: Nays and ayes have greeted the news that fresh graduates who earn less than RM4,000 can delay settling their National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans.
Such a move would cause financial strain to PTPTN and deprive others of the opportunity to further their studies, said former PTPTN borrower Alex Chai.
He also disagreed with a plan to lift the travel ban on loan defaulters.
“If graduates can afford to travel, why can’t they pay (their loan)? I have friends who paid off their PTPTN by being prudent,” he said.
On Tuesday, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said plans were afoot to help loan borrowers, adding that he would meet with the Immigration Department soon to discuss blacklisting measures currently in place on loan defaulters.
When contacted, PTPTN deputy chief executive Mastura Mohd Khalid declined to comment, saying that they would release a statement soon.
In the past, borrowers were required to start paying back their loans six months after graduation.
Other measures to encourage more people to settle their loans include special discounts, as announced in the 2013 and 2015 Budgets.
PTPTN borrowers who obtain a bachelor’s degree with first class honours are also eligible for loan repayment exemption.
A fresh graduate, who wanted to be known only as Jamie, said the RM4,000 ruling would give borrowers some leeway.
“Living costs are high. A fresh graduate’s salary is not enough to cover all daily expenses,” said the medical graduate, who will start her housemanship next month.
Another PTPTN borrower, who declined to be named, said he would no longer miss out on job prospects if the travel ban was lifted.
He added that he had missed out on career opportunities in Hong Kong and Singapore due to the travel ban.
The borrower, who is currently repaying his loan, said he was jobless for a year after graduating from university in 2014, as he was blacklisted.
“Now I can get a better job overseas to pay PTPTN back. Loan borrowers shouldn’t run away from it. It is a responsibility we agreed on when we took the loan in the first place,” he said.
PTPTN chairman Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said last year that the corporation had to take some “unpopular steps” such as listing all PTPTN borrowers in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS).
Persistent defaulters can be flagged on CCRIS and may even be denied the right to leave the country.
A Facebook user known as “Encik Hirman” cautioned that many borrowers would give excuses such as high living expenses and having to pay bills to avoid settling their loan.
“A loan is still a loan. It must be paid as PTPTN loans are made up of taxpayers’ money,” he said, adding that the travel ban on defaulters should continue to be imposed.
Another Facebook user, Elsie Lim, said the current policies in place for PTPTN borrowers are appropriate and need not be changed.
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