THE next step after leaving secondary school is ideally to further education at an institute of higher learning.
To do this, one will have to meet the entry requirements for a chosen programme and pay fees — be it for a matriculation course, pre-university/foundation programme, diploma or bachelor’s degree course.
But the costs of higher education comprise not only tuition fees but also travel costs, living expenses as well as the purchase of related learning materials. The lack of financial resources should not deter young Malaysians from seizing the opportunity to pursue quality education and realise their potential.
There is a variety of funding, not least with the assistance of a prospective university.
ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), like many universities in the country, provides advice and assistance for students in need of financial aid.
UTAR president and chief executive officer Professor Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik said: “Our employees provide advice on financial assistance and the options available to enable students to pursue studies at the university, provided they meet entry requirements.”
Information on loans and scholarships is listed at the UTAR website. On orientation day, the Division of Examination, Awards and Scholarships (DEAS) at the university briefs the new intake of students on financial aid.
“Students can submit their enquiries on scholarships and loans at the DEAS webpage (www.utar.edu.my/deas/) and DEAS will respond. Students and parents can also go to the DEAS counter staff for advice and information on loans and scholarships. They can approach academic advisers for guidance,” added Chuah.
If students are unable to get sponsorship or scholarships, they can apply for loans.
“The UTAR Student Loans and Bridging Loans cover tuition fees and are at zero interest.”
The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan is available for students to apply every trimester. The successful applicant is given a minimum of 50 per cent to a maximum of 100 per cent loan. The latter will only be given to students whose parents are Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia recipients. So far, all such applications under UTAR were granted approvals.
“Unlike diploma students, many matriculation and foundation programme students in private institutions are not eligible for PTPTN loans. So they are the ones who will be applying for financial assistance from the university or other loan schemes.”
Since its inception, UTAR has provided RM137 million in internal loans and scholarships to more than 14,000 students. This does not include PTPTN loans. Another RM15 million in external loans and scholarships were awarded by external sponsors to 600 UTAR students.
At Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), students having difficulties in paying fees can seek advice from the bursary as well as the Student Welfare Management Unit.
Vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Hassan Said said UiTM has always had a platform to help students with financial constraints. One of the measures to ease financial burden is the deferment of fees payment.
“The fees at UiTM are low compared to other public universities. Students from low income households often face financial problems but these can be resolved, bearing in mind the household income,” added Hassan.
First-year students, who are financially strapped and do not have sponsorship or scholarships, are advised to apply for a PTPTN loan first. This is because the application process and the offer of a scholarship or sponsorship generally take longer than getting a PTPTN loan approved.
Students can then cancel their PTPTN loan application if they are successful in getting sponsorship from public or private agencies. Some agencies do not allow students to have funding from several sources, which will result in them having to forfeit their sponsorship.
“The university provides the Tabung Amanah Zakat UiTM (UiTM Zakat Trust Fund) administered by UiTM’s Zakat, Alms and Waqf Division. Funds come from the UiTM community, retirees and university alumni who are Muslim. The distribution is based on asnaf.”
Asnaf is defined as people who do not have property or income sufficient to meet their basic needs and those of their dependents.
“The university also offers the UiTM Welfare Fund for Students, welfare assistance comprising one-off loans as well as exemption or reduction of tuition fees.”
The Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) offers a higher education zakat scheme for the poor in the Federal Territory. It has five aid schemes with an allocation of RM72.9 million this year.
The schemes include Baitulmal MAIWP general assistance for higher education which is in the form of cash of up to RM5,000, depending on the level of study, which is banked into the student’s bank account. Application is open yearly and MAIWP checks the eligibility of family needs based on the Had al-Kifayah calculation.
MAIWP chief executive officer Datuk Paimuzi Yahya said: “There is also the Baitulmal MAIWP Special Incentive/Scholarship for Brilliant Students for public university students with excellent academic achievement. The scholarship covers the duration of their studies and includes tuition fees and living allowance.
“We also provide Higher Education Preparation assistance in the form of cash of up to RM1,000 for preparation prior to starting studies.”
Students at Institut Professional Baitulmal and Pusrawi International College of Medical Sciences are also eligible for financial aid.
“We do not only offer zakat financial aid for religious studies but also cover fields such as medicine, dentistry, engineering, business and information technology and other disciplines that are syariah-compliant. Students on full-time studies for at least six months and who have received acceptance letters are eligible to apply. Applicants should not have full scholarship, sponsorship or allowance from any other parties. But our aid can complement insufficient funding,” he said.
Other than MAIWP, the Islamic Religious Councils from other states also offer higher education zakat schemes.
The Higher Education Loan Scheme from Koperasi Jaya Diri Malaysia Bhd (Kojadi) is another option.
General manager Tan Bean said: “Kojadi was founded in 1981 with the aim to assist needy and aspiring students to pursue higher education by providing education loans on the co-operative principle of self- and mutual help. Over the past 36 years, it has provided more than RM240 million in education loans to some 12,000 students.”
She added: “Since the launch of the maiden education loan scheme, we have implemented 12 loan schemes to cater to changing education needs of our members. These schemes cover almost the entire spectrum of tertiary education, ranging from vocational and technical to foundation and undergraduate and postgraduate education, both at local or overseas institutions of higher learning. Our yearly allocation for education loans is open-ended. The maximum loan for local studies is RM100,000 and RM200,000 for overseas and/or lab-based programmes such as medicine.”
Kojadi loan schemes are open to all eligible Malaysian students irrespective of whether they are studying in private or public institutions. Key requirements include being 18 years old and above, and a member of Kojadi; formal acceptance by an approved institution; and provision of guarantor(s).
“Loans are disbursed in one lump sum or instalments to the applicant or designated education institution. Students are given the option to service the interest on their loans during their study period. Repayment usually starts six months after they have completed their studies. We provide various modes of repayments such as online banking, fund transfer, JomPay and payment at the counter.
“Most students financed by Kojadi loans successfully completed their studies. If any loan recipient drops out halfway, the loan granted may be recalled and loan recovery measures initiated.”
New in the education financing market is the Affin Education Financing-i from Affin Islamic Bank Bhd.
Chief executive officer Nazlee Khalifah said the syariah-compliant education financing product is structured on the Islamic concept of ijarah which refers to a contract of service hiring, where the bank purchases the course programme and subsequently leases it to a student.
“This new offering covers tuition fees to complement facilities like PTPTN loans.
“Colleges and universities receive disbursements directly from the bank. Once the student secures financing, the learning institution is assured of payment. Funds are disbursed as per the billing fees of the institution. Normally it is on a semester basis,” he said, adding that the types of courses eligible for financing are guided by the bank’s syariah committee.
Affin Education Financing-i is offered on a joint application basis by parents or guardians together with the student. Collateral is not required and the financing is available to students from the approved panel of universities and colleges.
Malaysian citizens aged 18 to 45, who are full-time, part-time, new and existing students, are eligible to apply. The financing is available for those pursuing diploma, degree and postgraduate programmes at universities and colleges in the country.
During the study period, the student or parents/guardian only services the monthly profit according to the ijarah method; payment of instalments starts upon completion of studies.
“Currently, the maximum financing amount is RM150,000. But we are looking to increase it, depending on the tuition fees.”
Available since the middle of 2017, Affin Education Financing-i was launched at one of Affin Islamic’s panel universities, Management Science University, earlier this year.