Press Release
October 18, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara has hailed the recent enactment of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act which ensures that government scholarship programs are given to the poorest of the poor and most deserving students in the country.

"I thank President Aquino for signing UniFAST into law and proving that advancing quality education in the country remains to be the president's top priority. I also thank the sponsors Sen. Pia Cayetano, Cong. Roman Romulo and our other colleagues who worked hard for its passage.

"Throughout the PNoy administration, the education sector has consistently received a significant part of the national budget. With the enactment of the UniFAST, we can finally make sense of all the money the government gives for education-to give it more direction, and make sure that the country really benefits from public funds being spent in the field of education," said Angara, the principal author of the UniFAST law.

Republic Act 10687 or the UniFAST law mandates the government to put up a system and create a body that would oversee and harmonize all student financial assistance programs for a more targeted, speedy and sustained granting of scholarship programs.

A study by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) revealed that while the government had in place up to 62 student financial assistance programs, these programs have only assisted about 60,000 students or a mere 2 percent of the 2.7 million Filipino college students.

The study also showed that even students from higher income families, who could do without assistance from the government, were granted financial aid.

"Our poor but deserving youth must be given the best education opportunity that they can afford with the assistance of the state. This is the main objective of this legislation that we have been pushing since our days in Congress," said Angara, a former chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.

Under the proposed measure, beneficiaries under the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, or the top 10 graduates of every public high school, will be prioritized in the provision of government-funded scholarships, while students belonging to poor families and marginalized sectors can easily avail of the grants-in-aid.

The UniFAST Board will also be mandated to review the performance and assess the impact of the UniFAST program, and to conduct tracer studies to monitor the completion rate of the student beneficiaries.

"The board would evaluate whether the financial assistance provided to our student beneficiaries actually helped them land a decent job after graduation, earn higher salaries, helped their families rise from poverty or make significant contributions to community service and public good," said Angara, a known advocate of education reforms.

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