Tuesday 16 Jul 2024
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Mr Ahmad Dasuki Abdul Majid, Chief Executive Officer of PTPTN

Tertiary education is your child's doorway to a bright future. And saving up early can provide that promising future to your child without the student debt that shackles so many young graduates today.

National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) chief executive officer Ahmad Dasuki Abdul Majid says helping Malaysian parents save their children from falling into student debt later in life is among the key objectives of its National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN).

"Borrowing is an expense, while saving is a form of investment that will bring many benefits. With SSPN, PTPTN aims to help Malaysians avoid student debt through early financial planning and systematic saving for their children's education," says Ahmad Dasuki.

"With early financial planning, our children will not be burdened by student debt as they enter the workforce. Their income can then straightaway go into building their own lives such as purchasing property, building up a retirement nest egg and even saving up for their own children's education too."

Drawing lessons from other countries where student debt has grown into national crises, PTPTN is determined to help Malaysia avert the same issue from plaguing future generations. In the United States, for example, some 44 million Americans reportedly hold a combined US$1.6 trillion in student debt, some of which are financially crippling and causing a myriad other social issues.

While PTPTN started as a source of student loans to fund tertiary education, the agency is now pivoting towards facilitating saving plans that can begin as early as when a child is one day old.

This pivot is in-line with the government's mandate to encourage Malaysians, to adopt the habit of saving up early to secure their children's future.

To further support the effort, the government had recently extended a special income tax relief of RM8,000 for SSPN deposits to stay in effect until 2022.

There are two key offerings under SSPN, both of which are shariah-compliant.

The first is SSPN-i, which only requires a minimum deposit of RM20. In addition to the income tax relief, depositors will also enjoy competitive dividend returns; free takaful coverage for savings of RM1,000 or more; matching grants of up to RM10,000 for each eligible family; and eligibility to apply for PTPTN loans.

The second offering is SSPN-i Plus, which allows depositors to enjoy all the benefits of SSPN-i except the matching grant and Ringgit-to-Ringgit takaful protection as SSPN-i Plus already comes with takaful protection starting from RM40,000 up to RM1,000,000. On top of the RM8,000 tax relief, SSPN-i Plus depositors are also eligible for tax reliefs of up to RM3,000 for takaful contributions; and another RM7,000 for takaful contributions for those who opt for the pension scheme option.

It is worth noting that parents who file tax assessments separately can both enjoy the RM8,000 tax relief when opening a separate SSPN account for the same child. The benefits are applicable for both biological and non-biological parents in the case of legally adopted children.

These benefits, on top of attractive annual dividends, mean it is now the best time for parents to start saving up for their children's tertiary education if they have not already started, Ahmad Dasuki said further.

On PTPTN's part, it also took a creative approach in encouraging more parents to sign up for SSPN deposits. In July, it launched the Cabutan Wow! SSPN-i Plus 2020, a series of monthly and annual draw prizes designed to inject more excitement into education savings.

Last year's grand prize was a Proton X70 premium sports utility vehicle and the grand prize for 2020 is a luxury Mercedes-Benz C200 executive car, according to PTPTN.

It is a win-win strategy that will hopefully tip the balance for more parents who are yet to start saving up via SSPN, Ahmad Dasuki adds. "With savings through SSPN, not only children can continue their education to tertiary levels but the parents will also enjoy privileges from the savings."

News reports indicate that the initiatives by the government and PTPTN have been well-received by parents eager to start planning for their children's tertiary education. Some parents were quoted as saying the tax reliefs will enable them to increase SSPN deposits while others find more motivation to save up thanks to the various tax reliefs.

Regardless, the underlying benefits of saving up early for tertiary education are fundamentally critical despite add-on incentives and initiatives that may come and go, says PTPTN. At the end of the day, it is about gifting children the best possible chance to succeed without being chained by heavy student debt.

"It is vital that parents take this opportunity to save up through SSPN for the tertiary education of their children as early as possible to secure their future and reduce dependency on education loans, which may lead into burdensome student debt," says Ahmad Dasuki.

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