Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Prospero “Popoy” De Vera III said in a press conference on August 10, that the free tuition law is not just for the ‘least capable,’ but for all qualified students.
While there were several protests regarding the free tuition law in terms of ‘prioritization,’ De Vera pointed that the law will not only cover those who are struggling financially.
“The law does not provide an income requirement. So we cannot impose an income requirement on admission because the law provides for all qualified students in good standing per admission and retention policy. So it will cover everyone,” he said.
The Commissioner added that the concept of additional financial assistance is not new and actually exists for ‘poorer’ students like the “Tulong Dunong” program, and about 40 000 are benefitting from it.
“What the new law will do is expand that coverage to get more poor students because additional funding will be made available,” De Vera added.
There are five key points that De Vera discussed regarding the new law, after the first meeting for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on August 9.
- The new law expands the benefits to students by including standard miscellaneous fees that are in the law, starting Academic Year 2018-2019.
- It expands the coverage of free tuition and miscellaneous fee to the 111 local government-created universities and colleges nationwide.
- It provides the same for technical and vocational education under Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
- It provides additional subsidy for poor students in the two lowest deciles.
- It provides a student loan that will be created and administered through government financial institutions.
He also said that the additional financial subsidy and student loan program are for students from both public and private universities.
“So this is where poor students who are studying or poorer households who are studying in private universities can access the additional financial assistance and also borrow from the student loan fund, of course, at a significantly lower interest,” he said.
De Vera said that the estimated budget for this law is around 20 billion pesos.
“So the estimates that we have for the first year implementation of the law is about 16.8 billion pesos for the state universities and colleges – for the 112 SUCs – and the 16 local government-created universities, which have been evaluated by the Commission on Higher Education. And add to that, between 3 to 4 billion pesos for technical and vocational education under TESDA,” De Vera stated.
According to the commissioner, the money will be sourced from scholarship and financial assistance allocations in the budget of several government agencies including CHED, DOST, Department of Agriculture
They hope to implement the law in June 2018, ordering staff of CHED, TESDA, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to finish the IRR within the week.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act 10931 on August 5.