Press Release
August 11, 2017


Senator Sonny Angara has urged the government to ensure that poor students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) will be prioritized in the grant of additional financial support provided by the newly enacted free college law.

"While we are exempting all students in SUCs from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees, there should still be greater financial support for our poor students to help them pay for their dorm, transpo, books, and other school expenses.

"Dapat may nakalaan pa ring espesyal na ayuda para sa ating mga pinakamahihirap na estudyante na nagsusumikap na makapag-aral at makatapos upang maiahon ang kanilang pamilya sa kahirapan," said Angara, one of the authors of the free college law.

Under Republic Act 10931, all students enrolled in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and in state-run technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) are exempt from paying tuition and other school fees.

 To support the cost of free tertiary education, the law mandates the creation of a Tertiary Education Subsidy which may cover allowance for books, supplies, transportation, room and board, and other education-related personal expenses.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Prospero De Vera yesterday said the government needs about P20 billion to implement the free college law--P16.8 billion will go to the 112 SUCs and 16 LUCs, and P3 billion for TVIs.

The amount necessary to fund the Tertiary Education Subsidy will be included in the budgets of the CHED and the TESDA, 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.

The senator said such bigger allocation can be used to strengthen the government's student financial assistance programs so that more poor and deserving students would benefit.

"Sabi ng CHED, ang tuition ay 20% lang ng kabuuang cost of education. Ang 80% ay gastos sa dorm, pamasahe, pagkain, libro, projects at school supplies ng mga estudyante. Kaya't kinakailangan talaga ang dagdag na suporta para sa mga gastusing ito," Angara said.

According to De Vera, the new law can help expand the current 40,000 student-beneficiaries of the Tulong Dunong Program which entitles poor students with a P12,000-grant per academic year. To qualify, the combined annual gross income of the parents of the student-grantee should not exceed P300,000.

Angara has also filed Senate Bill 134 that provides five-percent student discount on food, medicine, miscellaneous and other school fees, including books and school supplies, to underprivileged students in all levels throughout the country.

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