Free college education in full swing in 2018

MANILA — With national development as the ultimate goal, the Philippine government invested in the future of the youth by ensuring the full implementation of the free tertiary education law in 2018.

In March, Commissioner on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III launched the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA), which mandates the free tuition and miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Under the UAQTEA, enrolled college students need not pay for their tuition, miscellaneous, and other similar or related fees.

Library, computer, laboratory, school ID, athletic, admission, development, handbook, guidance, entrance, registration, medical, dental, and cultural fees are included in the miscellaneous fees.

The government has allocated a budget of PHP40 billion for the school year 2018-2019 — PHP16 billion for Free Higher Education, another PHP16 billion for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for needy students, PHP7 billion for Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET), PHP1 billion for the Student Loan Program.

While most officials rooted for the smooth implementation of the UAQTEA, many are against it due to potential lack of sufficient funds for its implementation in the succeeding years and that the act might be subsidizing those who can afford to pay college tuition and fees and not the poor.

Advancing PH development

During CHED’s information campaign about UAQTEA, de Vera explained that students enrolled in local universities and colleges (LUCs) and SUCs are the ones, who will truly benefit from its implementation.

Apart from helping the beneficiaries land good jobs and improve the quality of their lives, de Vera stressed that the full and proper implementation of the UAQTEA will propel the country’s development.

“We will not feel the impact of this now, but 10, 15, 20 years from now, with the new graduates that are products of this law, will become Filipinos who are better educated, easier to employ. Ten to 20 years from now, they will be the engines of the growth and modernization of this country,” he said.

De Vera added the only ones who will instantly feel the impact of the law are the parents of students, who no longer pay tuition and miscellaneous fees, and students who are receiving Tertiary Education Subsidy from CHED.

CHED, SUCs, LUCs agreement

In June, CHED and a total of 112 SUCs and 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs) signed a memorandum of agreement on the full implementation of the UAQTEA at Malacañang with President Rodrigo Duterte as witness.

“The signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Commission on Higher Education and almost 200 tertiary academic institutions is a crucial step in helping young Filipinos fulfill their dreams of becoming productive members of the country’s workforce,” Duterte said.

He stressed that the move is a significant step towards improving the lives of underprivileged and marginalized Filipinos. In line with this, he encouraged every Filipino to pay the proper taxes to raise revenues for projects, such as this.

Starting the school year 2018-2019, around 1.3 million students did not pay their tuition and miscellaneous fees.

Additional subsidies

This December, the government released PHP16 billion fund for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES).

TES is given to poor but deserving students, who are enrolled in the 112 SUCs and 78 LUCs and whose names appear in the Listahanan 2.0 or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) list of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

TES beneficiaries in public universities get PHP40,000 a year, to be used for books, transportation, supplies, room and board fees, and other education-related expenses.

“Last month, we released PHP567 million for the stipends of 13,760 continuing Expanded Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA) scholars,” de Vera said.

To ensure that TES grantees will be able to complete their degrees, de Vera instructed the administrators of SUCs and LUCs to provide guidance counseling, tutorials, and other student support services.

“This is the best Christmas gift given by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to our poor but deserving students. Let us ensure the implementation of RA 10931 is executed promptly and benefit those that need it most,” he added. 
Ma. Teresa Montemayor/