KUALA LUMPUR: Imagine this scenario – your child has worked hard, done well in his examinations and earned himself a coveted spot in an institution of higher learning. He is just one step away from pursuing his dreams of further studies and all that is left is to pay for his fees.
However, this ideal situation is marred by the escalating costs of higher education. With no funds kept aside for education, the child needs to forgo their ambition of going to the university.
Imagine his disappointment, having worked so hard to realise his dreams.
This is a real situation for many families, who failed to realise how important it is to save early for their child’s further education.
The awareness on the importance of saving, however, is still low among Malaysians.
National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) senior general manager for public relations and event management Abdul Ghaffar Yusop said the awareness of saving for tertiary education was very low among Malaysians, especially the Malays.
He said the common excuses given for not doing so due to low salaries, and most parents were placing their hopes on getting a loan to fund their children’s education.
Abdul Ghaffar said the reality is that the government is responsible for providing the infrastructure and facilities, but parents must bear the resposibility of providing for their children’s education.
He added, a majority of Malaysians only started putting aside money for their children’s education once they entered secondary school.
“In this Internet age, everything, including banking, is at one’s fingertips. People are spending more than they can afford and the habit of saving is getting neglected.
“We want parents to change their perception and ‘save first and spend later’. Parents must make it a priority to put aside money for their children’s education so that they do not need to be burdened by debts when the time came for them to go to university. This also prevents the students from facing debts themselves as a result of these loans,” he said.
“Even if it was just RM1 a day, we must make them prioritise saving," he added.
Many do not know that by putting aside RM1 daily, they could start saving for their child’s education from the time their child is just a day old.
PTPTN’s Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN), via its SSPN- i Plus plan, allows parents to save from as little as RM30 monthly, and this plan also comes with Takaful insurance coverage benefits.
The coverage includes death and permanent disability, critical illness and hospital allowance.
“With a minimum commitment of RM30, parents also receive Takaful insurance protection should anything unfortunate should happen to them. This allows for some peace of mind and the child will still be able to continue studying,”.
“The SSPN- i Plus is the best gift we can give to each child,” said Abdul Ghaffar.
He advised parents to take advantage of the plans under PTPTN to save wisely and consistently for the benefit of their children.
“The gift of education is the one of the best gifts for the child’s future and with SSPN- i Plus, we can plan better to this end. As the Malay saying goes, ‘Sikit-Sikit lama-lama jadi bukit’, putting a little bit aside everyday will eventually grow into a sizeable investment for our children,” he added.
Introduced since 2015, the SSPN -i Plus offers competitive dividends, tax relief of up to RM12,000, insurance coverage of up to RM1 million based on package and no health check-up requirements for takaful protection.
Despite the obvious benefits to saving, only 10 per cent of parents, or 3 million, are saving in the scheme.
To encourage more parents to save, PTPTN is organising its Minggu Menabung SSPN which will be held at the One Utama Shopping Centre from Oct 5-7.
Abdul Ghaffar said the event, which is also in conjunction with World Savings Day on Oct 31, is a platform for the public to learn more about saving early and to start doing so.
“During the three-day programme, parents can come over to open an account for their children as well as participate in activities and win attractive prizes. There will also be performances by popular celebrities, lucky draws, colouring and puzzle solving contests, a talkshow, meet and greet with Didi & Friends and much more,”.
“The highlight of the event is on Oct 6, where parents will be able to open their accounts at selected shopping malls nationwide,” he added.