Press Release
May 30, 2017

Amid looming tuition hike in 260 private schools

Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday, while lauding the bicameral conference committee's approval of the bill that grants free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), stressed that greater financial support for students in private colleges and universities is likewise provided in the bill.

"This bill is truly a huge step in ensuring that all Filipinos are provided with equal opportunity to quality tertiary education-whether in public or private institutions. Hindi na dapat maging hadlang ang kahirapan sa pangarap natin na makapagtapos ang lahat ng Pilipino sa kolehiyo," said Angara, one of the authors of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which is pending ratification by both houses of Congress.

Once ratified, it will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte's signature. The bicam committee is headed by Senate education committee chairman Senator Chiz Escudero and House higher and technical education committee chairperson Rep. Ann Hofer.

Under the bill, all students enrolled in SUCs, local universities and colleges and in state-run technical-vocational institutions are exempt from paying tuition and other school fees-which include library fees, computer fees, laboratory fees, school ID fees, athletic fees, admission fees, guidance fees, handbook fees, entrance fees, registration fees, medical and dental fees, and other similar or related fees.

To support the cost of free tertiary education, a Tertiary Education Subsidy will be established which may also cover the tuition and other school fees of poor students enrolled in private colleges and universities, equivalent to the tuition and other school fees of the nearest SUC in the area.

According to recent reports, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has approved applications of 268 private higher education institutions to increase their tuition and other school fees for academic year 2017-2018.

"Umaasa po tayo na mapipirmahan na ito agad ng ating Pangulo upang magbigay ayuda sa ating mga poor but deserving students at sa kanilang mga pamilya. Three decades after free high school law, it's about time that we provide free college to our youth," added the senator who is a known advocate of educational reforms. Angara's father, former Senator Ed Angara, is the author of the Free High School Act of 1988.

Moreover, the Tertiary Education Subsidy may cover allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, and allowance for room and board costs.

"Our underprivileged students are not only burdened by the high cost of education but by daily school expenses as well. Tayo po ay lubos na natutuwa na naisama ang probisyon na ito sa bicam," said Angara, who filed the bill granting five-percent student discount on food establishments, medicines, textbooks and school supplies.

The amount necessary to fund the Tertiary Education Subsidy will be included in the budgets of the CHED and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and will be administered by the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board.

The UniFAST law of 2015, which Angara principally authored, mandates to put up a system and create a Board that would oversee and harmonize all student financial assistance programs for a more targeted, speedy and sustained granting of scholarship programs.

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