The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has formally launched on Monday, March 26, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law mandating free tuition in state universities and colleges.
CHED Officer-In-Charge J. Prospero de Vera III said the launch, held at the CHED main office in Quezon City, is a historic event for the country since “no developing country has ever attempted such movement in line with quality college education provision.”
Starting June 2018, students enrolled in 112 SUCs and 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs) can already enjoy free tuition and fees as instructed in Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).
The government has allocated PHP40 billion for the school year 2018 to 2019 — PHP16 billion for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), PHP7 billion for Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET), PHP1 billion for the Student Loan Program, and PHP16 billion for Free Higher Education.
Under the UAQTEA, enrolled college students need not pay for their tuition, miscellaneous and other similar or related fees.
The miscellaneous fees would include library, computer, laboratory, school ID, athletic, admission, development, handbook, guidance, entrance, registration, medical, dental and cultural fees.
However, the students should finish their college education within the four-year time frame.
Should they stay longer, they will have to pay for their tuition and other fees designated by their schools. Students are expected to render ‘return of service’ while studying in and not after college.
If they choose not to comply with the requirement, they will have to pay for their tuition and opt out of the scholarship program.
Disadvantaged students — indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and young people from depressed areas — are given easy access to free college education through the affirmative action programs provision of the law.
Students who do not want to benefit from the law can opt out of the subsidy during the enrollment period of each semester by submitting a waiver notarized by the concerned SUCs, LUCs, or TVET provider.
Meanwhile, students who can pay for their tuition and fees are welcome to apply for the free higher education provision but they are encouraged to contribute a specific amount to the higher education institution.
Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, the principal sponsor and co-author of the law in the Senate said he hopes the implementation of the law will be smooth sailing.
“I believe in my heart that the Filipino youth will value this blessing. After all, this blessing is not just an investment on them but an investment of our country,” Aquino said.
Senators Ralph Recto and Juan Edgardo Angara, Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles, Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evelina Escudero, and National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra were also present at the launch. (By Ma. Teresa Montemayor, Philippine News Agency)