To pursue a bachelor’s degree in IT in a Malaysian public university costs roughly RM 8,900-RM 9,910 (US$ 2,701-US$ 3,008) on average, and to pursue the same degree in a Malaysian private university costs roughly RM 33,000-RM 43,000 (US$ 8,920-US$ 11,620) on average. Some other disciples might require more than a quarter of a million ringgit in fees! With these fees, especially those exorbitant fees charged in private universities, it is not surprising that many students are constantly on the look-out for student financing.
The most well-known student financing option in Malaysia is perhaps PTPTN, Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi National as it is accessible by everyone. However, student financing can come in many forms ranging from grants to scholarship to loans to tuition waivers.
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Various institutions offer scholarships and grants to students pursuing an education in specific fields like IT, Medicine, Oil & Gas engineering etc and with different application deadlines. However, most of them are not one-off scholarship and generally have a second opening so it is important not to disregard the scholarships that have already passed their application deadline.
There are various good websites to search for scholarship, opportunities, and loans. Some notable examples are studymalaysia.com and, of course, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education website (www.mohe.gov.my). Both these websites offer a comprehensive list of scholarships along with their detailed specifications such as eligibility, duration, deadlines etc.
Scholarships are generally of two kinds. One solely covers tuition fees, and the other covers tuition fees and other expenses like accommodation and even allowance to the scholarship holders. Scholarships that cover tuition fees are great, but there is a definite advantage to finding one which covers other expenses as well.
When applying for scholarships, one of the most important things to keep in mind is whether the scholarship is bonded or not. A bonded scholarship is one which requires the scholarship holder to work for the scholarship provider for a period of time as specified in the scholarship agreement in return for the scholarship.
Bonded scholarships are commonly perceived as a bad deal on the part of the scholarship holder. However, for those with large financial responsibilities, a bonded scholarship might prove to be a smarter, more economical choice of scholarship. On top of assuring one’s education is paid for, such a scholarship also assures employment upon graduation and a steady income.
On top of that the issue of whether or not to be bonded, it must be taken into consideration that many scholarships require scholarship holders to maintain a minimum CGPA. If one’s CGPA falls under, say, 3.3, one will not longer be entitled to the scholarship and must seek alternative financing.
Scholarships with a minimum CGPA requirement can motivate students to perform better and focus more on their studies. With a good CGPA maintained, it is also more likely for these scholarship holders to be eligible for post graduate studies.From the standpoint of the parents, it might be a better option as it provides ample incentive for their children to work harder on their studies.
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Some of the most popular student loans in Malaysia include PTPTN, KOJADI, and MARA, just to name a few. The specifications for these loans vary pretty largely, so let’s dive in one loan at a time.
PTPTN, or “Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional”, is one of the most common loans students take out for tertiary education. “PTPTN” has almost become synonymous with “student loans”. This loan is aimed at aiding Malaysian students financially by offering them affordable financing at the low rate of 1%. PTPTN is repayable after a six months grace period upon graduation.
The maximum amount one can borrow with a PTPTN loan depends on the income status of the loan applicant’s family. Students or students with parents who are BR1M receivers are entitled to the Maximum amount of the loan; students with a household income no more than RM8,000 are entitled to 75% of the maximum amount, while students with a household income exceeding RM8,000 are entitled to just 50% of the maximum amount.
The eligibility requirements for PTPTN are as follows:
- Offer letter from an MQA recognised higher education institution
- Malaysian citizenship
- Under the age of 45 on the date of application
Pros and Cons
One advantage of PTPTN is that there is virtually no barriers for applicants, hence most applicants are eligible for it, making PTPTN is a relatively democratic loan. Another huge pro is that the can be converted to a scholarship if one obtains a Bachelor’s Degree with first class honors. On top of that, the interest rate (Ujrah rate) for PTPTN ranges from only 1% – 3%.
When it comes to cons, there is one that must be noted when considering which student loan to apply for. PTPTN is, as mentioned above, must be paid back after six months upon graduation based on the amount stated on the contract. The punitive action taken towards those who fail to repay their loans are serious. Those who default their loans will be barred from leaving Malaysia and their passports will be suspended. Their credit records will also be tainted, which destroys their credit reputation and it will be harder for them to borrow in the future.
KOJADI, as of now, has up to 13 different loan schemes from loans for early childhood education all the way up to loans for higher education. The interest fees charged on existing members with a minimum membership of 5 years is equivalent to a flat rate of 4.5% whereas the interest rate charged on new members is equivalent to a flat of 5.8%.
The prerequisites for KOJADI loans are as follows:
- The applicant must be member of KOJADI with RM100 initial shares
- The applicant / nominee must hold the requisite shares ranging from RM500 to RM1,000 depending on the loan amount applied for
- The nominated child/nominee must have gained admission to an approved institution of higher learning locally or abroad
MARA is a student loan for Bumiputera students under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. MARA loans are applicable to those studying locally as well as abroad. The eligibility for MARA is more or less the same as PTPTN with the additional condition that the applicant must be of Bumiputera status. MARA has a specified list of fields of studies applicants can choose from.
Various field of studies can be eligible for MARA loans/scholarship. This ranges from sciences such as medicine and dentistry, to social sciences and arts disciples such as economics, finance, actuarial science etc. The full list of eligible field of studies is made available here
Education can be costly, but there are always alternative financing options students can look into. Picking an appropriate scholarship/student loan can be very tricky. One must keep a lot in mind. The nature and prerequisites of various loans and scholarships vary and it is of paramount importance to read the fine print of the agreement to know exactly what one is getting oneself into.
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Available at: https://www.mohe.gov.my/en/scholarship
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Available at: https://www.studymalaysia.com/education/higher-education-in-malaysia/the-malaysian-higher-education-system-an-overview
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Available at: https://www.studymalaysia.com/international/why-study-in-malaysia/cost-of-studying-and-living-in-malaysia
[Accessed 16 July 2017].
StudyMalaysia.com, n.d.. [Online]
Available at: https://www.studymalaysia.com/scholarships/kojadi-education-loan
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