Free tuition 2017 reimbursements to SUCs almost complete: CHED

MANILA — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has reimbursed almost all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for academic year 2017-2018, refuting a Commission on Audit (COA) report on its low utilization of the PHP8-billion budget for the free tuition law.

In a statement, CHED Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero de Vera III said the balance left from the fund is being processed for reimbursements for the summer or midterm of AY 2017-2018 claims of SUCs and for some that have appealed and presented additional billings based on actual enrollment numbers in the same academic year.

“Contrary to media reports, quoting COA Annual Audit Reports, alleging that there is very low disbursements of the P8B Free Tuition Fund to state universities and colleges, almost all of the 112 State Universities and Colleges have been reimbursed for the first and second semesters of AY 2017-2018,” de Vera said.

Only the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) and the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College (AMPSC) have not been reimbursed since PMMA has a separate budget allocation for tuition in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2017, while AMPSC was not able to report its 2017 income.

“Reimbursement for the first semester tuition is sent to CHED in July or August by universities that open their academic year in June, while universities that open in August bill CHED in September or October. The year-end disbursement of CHED tends to be low because it does not yet include second semester reimbursements,” de Vera said.

He said the delays in the reimbursement were caused by the difference between the fiscal year and the academic year.

He also said a special provision in the 2017 GAA to “prioritize poor but deserving students” required SUCs to include in their reimbursement claims on income-based ranking of their students.

On Aug. 16, COA flagged CHED for the supposed low fund disbursement, noting that only PHP1.448 billion or 18.11 percent of the PHP8 billion budget was used for the first year of the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. Ma. Teresa Montemayor/