Island News

Your FNPF funds

Written By : TANYA TABUAVOU. The Fiji National Provident Fund fully recognizes that education is the soul of a society. With education, windows of opportunities are opened and steps to
18 Feb 2011 12:00

image Written By : TANYA TABUAVOU. The Fiji National Provident Fund fully recognizes that education is the soul of a society. With education, windows of opportunities are opened and steps to a better standard of living are developed.
The Fund’s Education Assistance policy allows members of the Fund to tap into their retirement savings to assist with their educational needs and those of their loved ones.
Mere Tagivetaua is a 39-year-old with almost 20 years of working experience.
She had launched her career without completing her tertiary education and has only reconciled this two years ago when she began her Diploma in Management.
“FNPF has been very beneficial in this regard. Accessing my retirement funds for my fees has been most useful,” she says.
Last week, she approached the Fund again for her two children’s tuition fees – one in Form Seven and the other at a tertiary institute.
“It hasn’t been easy for me being a single mother looking after my kids. I am glad that I have been able to grow my eligibility to the point where I can use it for my children’s tertiary fees. So far, I have spent about $3000 in school fees,” she said.
“I had never accessed my FNPF funds for any other assistance because I believed in keeping the money for my retirement,” Mere says.
With more than sufficient eligibility saved up, Mere now plans to continue with her own studies towards a Post Graduate Diploma.
“FNPF has been able to help me, help my kids and I am grateful for that. Even with the recent policy changes, I can still see the benefits afforded to me as a member of the Fund,” she adds.
The recent policy changes includes the removal of the low wage assistance where members earning less than $150 gross a week were allowed to access their eligibility for the education needs of their children in primary school.
The removal of this assistance follows Government’s initiative in subsidizing school fees from primary to Form Seven level through grants.
The FNPF partial withdrawals policy now only allows for withdrawal for local and overseas tertiary education assistance without the $2000 ceiling that was applied in the previous policy.
The $2000 ceiling previously allowed only $2000 to be withdrawn regardless of whether tuition fees amounted to more than the $2000 eg medical school students and pilot school students.
Local Institutes who would like to be recognized by the Fund need to be fully registered with the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Commission.
FNPF will not assist for tuition fees to an institute that is not registered by the HEC.
HEC has confirmed 27 institutes have been granted recognition including Community Education Training Centre, University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University, Fulton College, Australia Pacific Technical College, Pacific Flying School, Montfort Boys Town, Pacific Theological College, Advanced Aviation Training (Fiji) Ltd, among others. Members are advised to enquire for HEC recognition before enrolling into an institution.
Requirements to be recognised under HEC include:
a) legal status including the legality of agency arrangements,
b) ownership;
c) history as an educational institution;
d) goals including vision and mission;
e) culture;
f) corporate governance;
g) organisational structure;
h) academic governance
i) quality assurance;
j) finances;
k) management;
l) staffing; and
m) students’ tuition and grievances arrangements.
FNPF members need to have sufficient education eligibility to cover for tuition fees. A member can apply for him/herself, the spouse, children and siblings for vocational and tertiary level education only. Emphasis must be placed on the Fund’s withdrawal guidelines where all applications are processed according to the Fund’s policies and guidelines without bias. All applications are treated in the same manner.
Assistance can cover tuition fees only and accommodation costs to hostels approved under the Fund’s Education Assistance Scheme.
Accommodation will only be assisted to a maximum of $2000 per calendar year, if the student resides outside the institute’s locale. Invoices stating charges for associated fees other than tuition eg building fees, will not be assisted.
Additionally, the Fund only assists courses that are examinable and may result in the student attaining an academic certificate.

Repayment options
Members now have the option of repaying money withdrawn from their accounts in installments as well as lump sums up until the age of 50 years. This option should provide the member the opportunity to accumulate funds for retirement.
Members’ children are also encouraged to repay funds used for their education from their parents’ accounts. This allows children to contribute to their parents’ retirement well-being.
The Fund has experienced instances where members have retired with $2000 – $3000 left in their accounts due to excessive withdrawals. This needs to change and members can influence that change – by opting to pay back funds withdrawn over the years.

What the Fund does not assist:
n Where a certificate of participation is attainable;
n Reimbursement – where a member has sourced the funds from elsewhere for the full or part of the tuition and accommodation costs;
n Repayment of outstanding loans or bonds;
n Examination fees for professional membership;
n Online studies with Overseas Institutes; and
n Arrears of fees.

Documents to be submitted for overseas
Education
For tuition
n FNPF Application Form W30/3;
n Invoice;
n Confirmation of relationship to student eg birth certificate or marriage certificate; and
n Where eligibility does not cover for 50 percent of the amount requested, provide evidence of source of funds for the rest of funds required.

For accommodation
n Evidence that student is enrolled in an Approved institute;
n Documents confirming relationship of student to member; and
n Invoice for accommodation from approved home stay or hostel.

Documents to be submitted for Local
Education
n FNPF W30/3
n Acceptance letter & invoice from overseas tertiary institute stating duration of the course, details of fees, due date for payment of fees and school bank account details;
n Certified copies of student’s passport pages showing details of passport holder, validity of passport and student’s visa;
n Where eligibility does not cover 50 per cent of costs required, show evidence of other funds that will assist in covering the costs;
n Documents confirming relationship of student to member
n Evidence of bank account; and
n Evidence of institutes’ payment details for telegraphic transfer, bank drafts of postal address.

For accommodation
n Evidence from the institute that student is enrolled; and
n Invoice for accommodation from the home stay or hostel.


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