Several borrowers of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) have acknowledged that the loan repayment discount and deferment incentives for three months between March 1 and May 31 have helped alleviate their financial burdens.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, some borrowers also admitted to having been inconsistent in making loan repayments, which resulted in arrears amounting to some RM10,000.
However, after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government was implementing a loan repayment discount of up to 20% and a six-month payment deferment for borrowers with a monthly income of RM1,800 or below in Budget 2023, many borrowers decided to leverage on the repayment discount incentives.
Faranadhirah Mohd Noh, a pharmacist at a private hospital, said she had an outstanding balance of over RM28,000 when the government announced the initiative, adding that she and her husband promptly visited the nearest PTPTN branch to seek clarification on eligibility and the channels available to make the repayments.
Faranadhirah said the officers at the PTPTN counter clearly explained the repayment incentives, which covered four categories. The offer included a 5% discount for repayment through the myPTPTN application, a 15% discount for the settlement of at least 50% of the total outstanding debt with the remainder through salary deduction or scheduled direct debit repayment, and a 20% discount on the remaining debt for full settlement of the loan.
After careful thought, she decided to make a full settlement and did so just a week later.
"I was unsure at first because it would mean I would have to use the money I had saved up to make a down payment for my dream house.
"But after discussing it with my husband and friends, I decided to go ahead and settle the full amount as it would also facilitate my application for a full loan to buy a house."
She added that after making the full PTPTN loan repayment in April, the bank informed her that the loan application for her house had been approved.
"Since I'm no longer bound by PTPTN loan repayments, the bank raised my credit score for the loan application. All of this wouldn't have been possible without the discount incentives, and for that, I'm grateful to the government.
"My financial burden, too, has eased now that the loan is off my plate. Next year, I'm determined to pay off my home loan," she said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Divindran Ganasan, an IT worker, said that since completing his studies at a private university in 2018, he has been making loan repayments online but admits that he has not been consistent.
"Sometimes I pay, sometimes I don't. Besides, I was juggling part-time and freelance jobs. So, I often didn't have enough money to support myself," he told MalaysiaNow.
A year later, Divindran decided to be more responsible and started making monthly payments promptly through the e-commerce application Shopee, which has a function for education loan repayments.
Upon learning about the discount for borrowers announced during the tabling of Budget 2023 in February, however, he was determined to take charge of his own financial future.
After contacting PTPTN, he decided to make his loan repayments consistently through the online direct debit system. For two months now, he said the salary deduction mechanism has automatically deducted the loan repayment amount from his monthly income.
"This method is easier because I no longer need to manually repay my loan; the amount is automatically deducted from my salary every month. I couldn't afford to make the repayment in the past, but now that I have a stable job, I can.
"The PTPTN loan enabled me to pursue a higher education, and making repayments is my way of showing appreciation to the government and ensuring the continuity of education loans for future generations," he added.
Divindran further expressed his hope that such initiatives would be continued on a seasonal basis in the future, perhaps twice a year, to encourage borrowers to repay their education loans.