Top 5 sources for scholarships and financial aid

If you’re losing sleep over how to fund your further studies, rest easy as there are much more opportunities these days than you think.

As you’re not alone in seeking this type of funding, keep an open mind and consider using a combination of sources to cover your needs.

These would include combining a scholarship with part-time work to cover your expenses, or a combination of student loan and scholarship.

Plan carefully so you don’t break any rules that may come with your scholarship’s terms and conditions. Bear in mind that there may also be certain academic achievements required of you in order to maintain the scholarship.

Here are the top five sources of funding available:

1. Government scholarships

The government, through various agencies, offers many scholarships each year that can cover either tuition fees, or include money for study and living expenses. These are available for studies in Malaysia or abroad.

However, these can be very competitive, such as those from the Public Services Department, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Petronas, and others.

Scholarships from government and non-governmental sources are usually given out for academic achievement or some other criteria such as athletic performance.

Government agencies may also offer bursaries that are targeted at specific groups. These are usually needs based, and target selected groups, such as those who have an annual household income below a certain amount.

Government scholarships include funds set aside by state governments, which are usually restricted to residents or those born in those states. It would be good to check if your state government has any schemes that you may apply to for financial support.

There also scholarships from government-linked companies or foundations, which can be open for studies in all fields or restricted to specific academic programmes.

These include highly coveted scholarships from institutions such as BNM, Petronas, the Telekom Foundation and Khazanah Foundation.

2. Private scholarships

Corporate scholarships are another option, as many large public companies also offer scholarships. These include a number of private foundations established to provide scholarships to underprivileged students.

Also, not all of them require high academic performance as they are aimed at providing study opportunities for targeted groups.

Options include large firms like Maxis, Sime Darby, Shell and the Sunway Group through the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation. You are advised to read through the different terms and conditions to select the best option for you.

The education institution you’re applying to may also offer a scholarship that comes in the form of tuition fee waivers of up to 100%. These however, come with expectations of performance – you need to maintain certain grades in order to maintain the scholarship.

Some scholarships offered by companies may also include a bond that requires you to work with the company for a certain period.

This may be appealing to some – as it offers a job opportunity at the end of the study period – while others may want more flexibility in selecting their own place and location of work.

3. Government loans

The PTPTN fund, which is often in the news these days is another good option for those seeking education funding. The loan, however, may not cover the entire cost of your studies so visit their website for more information and details on how the programme works.

Do check if your state government also has a similar study loan scheme, which may be a better option.

4. Bank loans

Taking a bank loan is another option available, but you will need to do some careful research to calculate the eventual cost due to the interest rate.

This means that you may take up a personal loan at the going interest rates to finance your education. You will have a fixed repayment schedule and in some cases, little flexibility in deciding when you start paying back the loan.

However, one key factor to consider is the interest-free loan from Bank Rakyat, which also comes with the option of a discount for good academic performance.

Aside from these top five sources, there are alternative methods that could also supplement your income, such as your parent’s EPF withdrawal and you taking up a part-time job.

Good luck with your search!

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