Johor state Health, Environment, Education and Information Executive Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat (middle row, 4th from right) with National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) chairman Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (middle row, 3rd from left) pose for a group photo after the launch of Johor state level SSPN-i Plus at Pentan Utama, Dataran Mahkota. Pic by MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN.

KOTA ISKANDAR: The number of people applying for loans from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) has steadily declined as more are tapping into their National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN-i) and SSPN-i Plus accounts to fund their education.

PTPTN chairman Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said in 2014, the number of people who received loans from PTPTN totalled 207,477 but the number dropped to 177,372 last year.

"At the same time, the amount of PTPTN savings that was withdrawn has increased from RM53.3 million in 2014 to RM141.2 million last year. This showed that people are have shifted their focus and are not too dependent on PTPTN loans anymore as they rely more on the savings that they have made with us.

"This also means that our efforts to encourage more people to save with us so that they are prepared to fund their future education have shown results," said Shamsul.

He was speaking to the media after the state-level launch of the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN-i Plus) at the Progressive Johor Expo.

The launch was overseen by state Health, Environment, Education and Information Executive Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat, who was representing Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. Also present was PTPTN chief executive officer Wan Ahmad Wan Yusoff.

Shamsul also urged the public to take advantage of the grant provided by the government for opening an SSPN-i Plus account for Year 1 students.

"Under the grant which was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during Budget 2017, for every SSPN-i Plus account open for Year 1 student with a minimum deposit of RM50, the government will provide a grant of RM50.

"The government has allocated a fund of RM25 million for the grant but so far only RM1.5 million have been paid out. We hope to use all the allocation by the end of the year," said Shamsul.

On that note, Ayub said that beginning next year, the state government would make it compulsory for parents of Year 1 students to open an SSPN-i Plus account for their children.

"This is not only to take advantage of the grant but also to encourage parents to save for their children’s education. I believe Johor is the first state to do this," said Ayub.

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