Bill seeks underprivileged students’ discounts on school fees, food, medicine prices

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Poor students can soon get discounts on tuition fees, food, medicine, textbooks and school supplies.

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HB 3093 authored by Rep. Czarina Umali (3rd District, Nueva Ecija) entitles underprivileged students to five percent discount on them.

“Just like the Senior Citizen’s Act that gives discounts to our elderly, a similar law should also be enacted to benefit these underprivileged students whose future is a responsibility of the State,” she said.

“Although mechanisms are in place for scholarships, loans, grants and other support systems, these prove to be inadequate as most underprivileged students still struggle with other financial woes like food, transportation, school supplies and others, sometimes forcing them to drop out of school,” she noted.

The proposed Underprivileged Post-Secondary and Tertiary Students’ Discount Act of 2013 shall not grant discounts to students who fail to enroll for one semester in majority of their academic subjects unless a valid cause is presented.

Discounts shall also not be given if the student fails to finish the course within two years from the time he or she should have graduated if this person stops attending school for one semester or is convicted of any crime.

Umali said discounts granted by establishments to underprivileged students should be treated as allowable deductions from gross income in computing income tax in accordance with the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall determine qualified tertiary or college beneficiaries under the measure through its Office of Student Services.

Violators shall be penalized with suspension of business permits for not more than four weeks and a fine of not more than P200,000.

If the offender is a corporation, organization or any similar entity, the officers shall suffer the same penalty imposed on any person found in violation of the measure.

Filipino students who opt to take part-time jobs to subsidize their education and whose income combined with the annual gross income of their parents do not exceed P100,000 shall be considered underprivileged students also and qualified to avail of discounts.

CHED and TESDA shall issue identification cards which shall be valid nationwide as the students’ proof of eligibility for the discounts.

Both agencies, in coordination with NEDA, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Finance shall issue implementing rules and regulations for carrying out objectives of this measure. PNA

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