Save Up For Your Child’s Education Fund Now
Most parents aim to provide their children with the best education possible, in order to secure their children’s future under a high quality learning experience. However, thinking about it is not the same as actually setting up a concrete plan to realise that dream.
With the rising cost of tertiary education, many parents are concerned about whether they will be able to afford to send their children to university. Which is why parents should start planning for their child’s university fund as soon as possible.
How much will a university education cost when your child is ready to go?
First, do your research and find out how much money you will need to support your child’s tertiary education. This figure will depend on whether you want your child to further their studies locally or abroad, and also the course pursued. Then you will have an idea of how much money you will need to save.
Below is the present fee structure for some common tertiary education courses at preferred locations:
If a medical degree cost RM255,400 in a local private university today, in 18 years, it will come up to RM645,893 (assuming an education cost inflation rate of 5% per annum). If you have more than one child to fund through university, these figures will be even more startling.
What are the best ways to save for your child’s university fund?
A heavy emphasis on higher education is reflected in the availability of various financial avenues to help you reach your goal of financing your child’s higher education. You can also mix and match these plans to better cater for your needs.
1. Education plan
Various insurance companies (e.g. AIA) offer education policies to finance your children’s higher education. These policies not only offer endowment but also insurance coverage, opening up opportunity for you to invest in various investment-linked funds based on your risk appetite. You can use these savings to fund your children at any accredited university locally or overseas.
2. Unit trust Funds
You can invest in an equity or balanced equity unit trust funds that offer at least 10% in returns as savings for your children’s higher education locally or overseas. These can be monitored online as your risk appetite and circumstances change throughout your investment period.
When it comes to unit trust funds, you can invest in specific education funds such as Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad’s Amanah Saham Didik to save for your children’s higher education needs. This is an equity fund that offers annual returns of 6%. You can reinvest the dividends and only withdraw it when your child needs it for their university. You can also invest in unit trust funds via various fund management companies (e.g. Public Mutual) through their education planning programs.
3. Fixed Deposit (FD)
You can save for your children’s tertiary funding by putting a large amount of savings into a Fixed Deposit (FD) account and leave it there to accumulate over the years. FD offers virtually no risk and generally earn higher dividends of 3.5% than the regular savings account. Furthermore, the money invested in a member bank is protected by PIDM.
Reinvest the dividends into the principal amount and you can add in more savings each time it expires. Anytime you get an unexpected windfall, such as tax refund, annual bonus, or cash gift, put it into your FD account. You weren’t counting on this money as part of your regular income, so don’t spend it as such.
4. National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN)
SSPN was introduced by the Government through the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN). Besides offering annual dividend returns of 4%, SSPN also provides other financial incentives such as an annual tax relief of up to RM6,000, matching grants of up to RM10,000 for low-income depositors, and Takaful coverage to all eligible depositors. However, these funds can only be used only if your children pursue their studies locally in any of the approved public or private universities.
5. Junior Savings Account
Most major banks have more than one special savings accounts designated for children. They usually offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. Some of these savings accounts also offer personal accident coverage and cash rewards for good performance in public exams. You can stash away your child’s university fund savings in these junior savings accounts and withdraw it only when your children need it. These aren’t particularly great accounts to use to grow your child’s university fund but it’s a good option if you feel you may need the liquidity but still want higher than regular savings account returns.
6. Create the awareness of savings within your child
You should encourage your children to save for their higher education as well. Let your children know your savings plan and have them to contribute as well from savings of their pocket money or gifts received during festivals. Teach them the different investment options and get them excited about saving for their future. It is important they understand the benefit of long-term saving, especially on something involving them. Here are some money lessons you can instil in your children according to their ages.
What if there’s no time to save?
If you hadn’t save for it earlier, you can still consider these options (though they are not ideal) when the time comes for your child to go to university. However, using these avenues will leave a negative impact on your or your child’s future finances.
1. Employees Provident Fund (EPF)
You can make an Education Withdrawal from your EPF Account II to finance your children’s education, either locally or abroad. But be reminded that this will leave you with less cash to retire upon.
2. National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN)
You may take the back seat in saving for this purpose and depend on using the PTPTN facility to fund your children’s higher education. However, that way you have knowingly placed your child in debt even before they even start working.
3. Refinance your home
If you have a home that have been paid off or the mortgage paid off significantly, you can consider refinancing your home i.e. liquidise your home for your child’s university fund. Again, this is not ideal and will largely depend on your financial situation and capability to continue paying for the mortgage.
No matter the option: Start today
Saving for your child’s education is typically a long-term goal to be achieved. As the cost of a university education is set to rise as years roll by, the need for parents to carefully plan ahead becomes even more important. The earlier you start saving, the better is the compounding effect. By procrastinating, the less interest you will accumulate and the more you will have to save as time grows near.
You should start saving for this very purpose right from or even before the birth of your first child. If you haven’t start saving for your child’s future education needs, today is the day!