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Students risk dropping out of varsity as Mara loans in limbo

Students who enrolled into university with the belief that they will receive an education loan from Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) are now facing the possibility of dropping out as the money is nowhere to be seen.

The uncertainty over Mara education loans comes in tandem with the downsizing of Public Service Department overseas scholarships amid falling government revenue.

The students said their seniors have previously received Mara education loans with no problems but the same cannot be said about them.

"I have not been able paid my university fees for three semesters," said a student who only wanted to be known as Mustaqim, a student at Asia Pacific University (APU) in Kuala Lumpur.

Mustaqim told Malaysiakini he had sought clarification from Mara whether he will ever receive the loan but was only told to wait for the "announcement" online.

He claimed that 10 of his classmates have already dropped out as they failed to secure an education loan from Mara.

Mustaqim said the university has yet to pressure him to pay up as it is under the impression that Mara will eventually disburse the loan.

However, patience appear to be running thin, he said, as the university has begun holding meetings with affected students and proposing that they take a loan from the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) instead.

"But I don't want to take PTPTN as it doesn't provide cost of living allowances and the total loan will also not be enough to pay the fees.

"Furthermore, interest is also imposed on the repayment," he said.

PTPTN had in 2014 announced a reduction of 15 percent of its maximum loan sum for private institutions due to a lack of funds.

Mara had denied it too is running out of funds and said its scholarships are still being offered despite reduced funding.

However, the status of Mara education loans remains unclear.

Another student who only wanted to be known as Faris, from Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), said he is now in limbo as he does not have money to continue his studies.

Faris said he applied online for Mara's education loan in November last year but the agency has yet to respond.

"I have gone to the Mara headquarters but they told me to wait for an announcement on their website.

"For now, I can only rely on my parents to continue my studies," said the engineering student.

Faris said his university too has began asking affected students to consider taking up PTPTN loans to continue their studies.

Likewise, Faris is also not keen on the PTPTN loan which he said is insufficient to cover his fees and lacks a monthly allowance to cover the cost of living.

Another student from APU who only wanted to be known as Adawiyah said she is seriously considering dropping out as her Mara loan has yet to be approved.

However, Adawiyah said she is left in a dilemma as even if she quits university now, she must clear her unpaid university fees.

"Like it or not, I have to continue my studies and for now, I can only rely on my parents first," she said.

The students' plight was highlighted by former student leader Fahmi Zainol, who urged Mara to announce the status of its education loan so as to allow students to make a decision on their future.

Meanwhile, Mara chairperson Annuar Musa, when contacted by Malaysiakini , declined to comment on the matter until he returns from overseas.

Malaysiakini has contacted UniKL and APU and is awaiting their response.

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