Press Release
February 7, 2016


Vice-presidential frontrunner Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero vowed to ensure full and effective implementation of a government program providing financial aid to Filipino students that would enable them to pursue a college education.

Escudero was referring to the student financial assistance program under Republic Act No. 10687, or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act (UniFAST), which was signed into law by President Aquino last October.

Unlike the typical scholarship program, Escudero said the UniFAST covers all students, not only those with honors or with exemplary scholastic record.

"Sa madaling salita, hindi ito scholarship. Ang problema kasi sa scholarship, matalino lang ang pwedeng bigyan. Hindi naman pwede na ang may mga honor lang ang makakapagtapos ng kolehiyo," the leading vice-presidential candidatepointed out.

"Ang UniFAST ay para sa lahat. Isa lang ang requirement: gusto mong mag-aral," said Escudero, who is a product of the country's public school system.

The UniFAST law, authored by Partido Galing at Puso senatorial candidate and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, provides a comprehensive and unified financial assistance system to tertiary students in the country.

Among others, it aims to establish a self-sustaining National Student Loan Program that would provide students short- and long-term financial assistance for tertiary education.

"It is 'study now, pay later' scheme for college students who are committed to finishing their courses," Escudero said.

"Basta gustong mag-aral ay pwede sa UniFAST law. Basta pagkatapos mag-aral ay ibabalik din sa pamahalaan para mapakinabangan naman ng iba," he added.

Escudero said the government should not hesitate to spend taxpayers' money on programs like UniFAST because "education spending is an investment in our future."

The veteran lawmaker strongly believes the UniFAST law will help improve the enrollment and completion rate in tertiary education, especially among the poor.

Based on the records of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), of the 3,044,218 that enrolled to college in school year 2011-2012, only 648,752 completed a four-year course and graduated in 2015, or a measly 21.31 percent survival from first to fourth year college.

Although there are existing student financial assistance programs (StuFAPs) for tertiary education, these programs served only 60,240 college students in 2011, or 1.97 percent of the 3,044,219 students who enrolled that year.

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