Start saving from an early age

(Second and third left) Mastura, Wan Saiful, PTPTN management board member Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob (fourth right) together with the winners of the lucky draws Azizah Zakaria (left), Aisyah Hasyila (centre), Hasimazatul Azwita Hasim (third right) and Kartini (right) at the launch of the national level SSPN Saving Week 2019. RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

THERE is a free matching grant of up to RM10,000 for those in the B40 group to help them save for their tertiary education.

The catch is, they need to have a National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) account.

National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan says: “The Government had allocated RM1bil in the form of a matching grant as a special incentive for them (B40) to save for the purpose of securing their children’s higher education.”

This matching grant was originally announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Budget 2003 during his first tenure as prime minister, he says during the launch of the National Savings Week 2019 last week.

He says PTPTN is reviving the incentive because it will greatly help and benefit those from the low-income bracket.

“This is also one of the Government’s efforts to ensure that this group is prepared to bear the costs of higher education, ” he says.

This, he adds, is in line with the prime minister’s vision of shared prosperity and that those who do not earn much should not be forgotten.

“People often think that saving is only for those who “have”

the money or ask how to save if their income is small, ” Wan Saiful says.

This is why he believes the B40 group should grab this chance and open an SSPN-i account to enjoy the matching grant.

The grant will be given to those with a monthly income below RM4,000, there has been consistent deposits into the account for at least 10 years and the student must have been accepted into a higher learning institution.

Wan Saiful says deposits can be as low as RM20 a month.

The SSPN, a savings plan to encourage parents to save for their children’s higher education, was created by PTPTN in 2004.

“We must erase the view from the minds of the public because PTPTN no longer wants to be seen solely as a lending entity.

“Instead, it should be seen as an entity that provides a scheme for saving for higher education, ” says PTPTN deputy chief executive (policy and operations) Mastura Mohd Khalid.

She says that there is a report showing that 75% of Malaysians do not even have RM1,000 kept aside in case of an emergency.

She adds that she is aware that the current economic situation is proving to be a hurdle to encourage people to save for the future.

So, she says that increasing awareness among parents on the importance of saving and financial planning by making specific investments for higher education has to happen.

This is where the SSPN product can help because it can encourage the rakyat to make specific investments for higher education, she adds.

This year, Mastura says, PTPTN aims to have around 500,000 new SSPN accounts opened with a total savings of around RM1bil.

As of Aug 31 this year, around 4.2 million SSPN accounts have been opened with deposits amounting to RM5.1bil.

Aside from free takaful coverage, SSPN-i savings scheme entitles depositors to tax exemption of up to RM8,000 per annum and competitive dividends.

The SSPN-i Plus is an improvised version of the SSPN-i, a government-guaranteed savings scheme which provides affordable and comprehensive takaful coverage to depositors from as low as RM30 per month and with more benefits added.

Through SSPN-i Plus, depositors are eligible to enjoy a tax exemption of up to RM15,000 per annum (RM8,000 in SSPN-i and RM7,000 in takaful contribution) for civil servants under the pension scheme, takaful protection of up to RM1mil in the case of death or permanent disability, funeral expenses, attractive dividend, and eligibility for PTPTN loan for tertiary education, but not including the matching grant incentive scheme that SSPN-i depositors will enjoy.

In conjunction with SSPN-i’s 15th anniversary, PTPTN is holding three draws for 15 lucky winners.

There will be five winners for three draws and each will walk away with RM15,151,15.

The first winner has already been chosen and the money

went to Aisyah Hasyila Jahidin, 43.

The lecturer from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Faculty of Pharmacy, says she thought it was a scam when she got the call informing her that she had won.

“I was not expecting this at all and immediately checked PTPTN’s website, ” she says, adding that she only realised it was real once she saw the website.

Aisyah Hasyila says she opened the savings accounts for her three children so that they would not have to struggle later when it comes time for them to pursue their tertiary studies.

She adds that she has opened both SSPN-i and SSPN-i Plus for her two boys and one girl.

“I feel it is important for us to save for our children’s future, ” she says, adding that she deposits RM100 into each account every month.

“These plans are a really good choice to save money for the future, ” says Aisyah Hasyila.

Kartini Jasni, 32, can thank her lucky stars because she had begun saving in the SSPN-i Plus account for only three months.

Yet, she was one of the winners of the WOW! SSPN-i Plus Draw.

The veterinary doctor says she found out about the savings plan from PTPTN through social media.

“I was drawn to the takaful coverage that they offer when I save in the SSPN-i Plus account, ” she adds.

The mother of one says she didn’t expect to win RM3,000 in the draw.

On another matter, Mastura says the National Savings Week was held in conjunction with World Savings Day that is happening on Oct 31.

Locally, the three-day programme was held consecutively in 13 locations across Malaysia.

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