9 Ways to Fund Your College Education

College tuition fees are on the rise, but that doesn’t mean that you need to skip college. Here are some tips on how you can fund your college education.

Updated 28 Jan 2022

This article was initially published in June 2015 and has been updated as of 27 January 2022 with new information.

Despite the snowballing cost of education (not to mention a major source of stress on your family’s finances), a tertiary education can open the doors to various opportunities for you in the future, making it a worthwhile investment.

If you’re bogged down by financial constraints and are worried about funding your tertiary education, don’t sweat. The good news is there are a tonne of ways to glide your way around for the cash! There are 9 ways you can fund your college education.

#1. Scholarships from the government and private institutions

Ways to fund your college education - 1 Scholarships from the Government & Private Institutions

Heaps of institutions, be it the government, government-linked companies or private institutions, award prestigious scholarships to outstanding students.

These scholarship providers often offer scholarships covering full tuition fees, accommodation and living costs. Some institutions even award scholarships to study overseas, making them highly coveted.

Some of the popular scholarship providers include JPA, Bank Negara, PETRONAS, Yayasan Khazanah, UEM Group, Yayasan Telekom, Yayasan Sime Darby and The Star.

Watch Out For: Scholarship bonds (which require you to work for the institution for several years once you graduate), degree restrictions (where scholarships are limited to certain degrees only) and university restrictions (where you will be required to study at a predetermined higher education institution).

#2. Scholarships from colleges and universities

Ways to fund your college education - 2 Scholarships from Colleges & Universities

Most colleges and universities offer full and partial scholarships to students with good grades. More often than not, these scholarships are also available at pre-university and foundation level.

One of the best things about college scholarships is that they are often given out based on the number of As that you achieve. In other words, you won’t have to swim through the hassle of sitting through any interviews! As long as you meet the results criteria and you’re enrolled in the college or university of your choice, you are likelyto receive the scholarship!

The percentage of tuition fee waiver may vary from 10% to 100% waiver and is often subject to renewal on a semester basis. Recipients are expected to maintain a minimum CGPA to continue relishing in the glory of the tuition fee waiver.

Watch Out For: Terms and conditions — most scholarships are in the form of tuition fee deduction and only cover tuition fees. You may need to pay for examination fees and other general college fees, depending on the institution.

#3. Government education loans

Ways to fund your college education - 3 Government Education Loans

Apart from scholarships, there are also government education loans that can help unload the burden of your college tuition fees.

Perbadanan Tabungan Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) is probably the most well-known government loan (unless you’ve been living under a rock). The interest rate is extremely low (only 1% fixed rate per annum), which is lower than most conventional loans. In addition, those who achieve First Class Honours will be exempted from repaying the loan.

Watch Out For: Unaccredited courses. You will only be eligible for PTPTN if your course is accredited by MQA.

#4. Bank education loans

Ways to fund your college education - 4 Bank Education Loans

Bank Rakyat is one of the few banks that offer distinct study loans for students who wish to further their education, whether it’s locally or abroad. Termed as the Yayasan Bank Rakyat (YBR) Pembiayaan Pendidikan Boleh Ubah (PPBU), the loan is not subject to any interest and you will only need to pay back the amount borrowed, which may be incentivised depending on your results.

On top of that, you can also try out for the Maybank Education Loan. Applicable for both local and international studies, you can get up to RM400,000 worth of secured financing to pursue any MQA-accredited subject of your dream.

Aside from the two, you can check out the AFFIN Education Financing-i loan from AFFIN Islamic Bank.

Watch Out For: High interest rates! Bank loans usually have interest rates that are much higher than government education loans, so only take this option if you’ve exhausted others.

#5. Private education loans

Ways to fund your college education - 5 Private Education Loans

If you’re still scratching your head for more options, perhaps you can also peep into private organisations who offer study loans to students pursuing various courses at higher educational institutions. You’ll be surprised that some organisations even extend their loans for overseas studies!

To name a few:

Watch Out For: High interest rates! The interest rates for these private education loans can be much higher than PTPTN.

#6. Withdrawal from Employees Provident Fund (EPF)

Ways to Fund Your College Education - 6 Withdrawal from Employees Provident Fund (EPF)

If you or your parents are members of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), you can consider withdrawing your savings from your EPF Account 2 to fund for your tertiary education. Eligible courses include diplomas, advanced diplomas, undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, as well as professional qualifications (e.g. ACCA, CIMA, CLP).

The funds withdrawn can be used for a range of expenses, including tuition fees and accommodation. If you are studying abroad, it can also be used for a one-way flight ticket for your first year.

For more information, visit the EPF website here.

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#7. Financial aid

Ways to Fund Your College Education - 7 Financial aid

In addition to the options above, there are several other financial aid options that you can consider. Many of these are for those from low-income families or with special needs, where the aid can be used to supplement existing loans from other organisations.

These include:

#8. Work part-time

Ways to fund your college education - 8 Work Part-Time

Now that you are entering adulthood, it’s crucial to not just depend on others — you need to take initiative too!

Depending on the course that you’re enrolled in, you may find that you have some free time after class and during the weekends as well as semester breaks. Utilise this time by taking up a part-time job to reduce your parents’ financial burden. Try asking establishments around your campus if they are looking to hire or you could also try your luck at your campus office.

A part-time job may not earn you much, but every little bit counts! Not only that, you’ll be gaining practical skills and knowledge too.

#9. Crowdsource from family and relatives

Ways to fund your college education - 9 Crowdsource from Family & Relatives

Try asking your family members and relatives to help you out, and make sure you also cook up a solid plan to pay them back. If you demonstrate commitment and dedication, chances are they’ll be willing to help you out if they have the extra ka-chings. Yes, you’ll most definitely have to work extra hard for the excellent grades (#alleyesonyou) to prevent their kind gesture from going to waste!

Remember that not all colleges and universities are painstakingly costly. If the college you wish to enrol in is out of your financial range, try seeking out other colleges! In actuality, many colleges offer affordable fees that are coupled with partial scholarships and financial aid.

Like this article? Read more money-saving tips here: 5 Money-Saving Tips Every College Student Needs To Know.

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.