THE Senate on Tuesday ratified a bicameral conference committee report that grants free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), which would provide equal opportunity for quality tertiary education.
The bill guarantees tuition subsidy to all Filipino citizens currently enrolled at SUCs and other covered institutions, as well as those who will enroll in the future for a bachelor’s degree, certificate degree or any comparable undergraduate degree.
College students can avail of the tuition assistance provided that they meet the admission requirements of their chosen SUC.
The bill, however, will not cover individuals who had attained a bachelor’s degree or any equivalent degree, as well as people who had been discharged from any higher education institution, or those who “failed to complete their degree or non-degree within a year after the prescribed period in their program.”
“This bill is truly a huge step in ensuring that all Filipinos are provided with equal opportunity to quality tertiary education, whether in public or private institutions. Poverty will not be a hindrance for student to finish college,” said Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, an author of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
Once ratified by both Houses of Congress, the bill will be transmitted to Malacanang for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The subsidy will not only cover tuition but also other fees: library, computer, laboratory, ID, athletic, admission, guidance, handbook, entrance, registration and medical and dental.
To support the cost, a Tertiary Education Subsidy will be established that may also cover the tuition and other school fees of poor students enrolled in private colleges and universities, equivalent to the tuition and other school fees of the nearest SUC in the area.
This subsidy may cover allowance for books, supplies, transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses and allowance for room and board costs.
The amount necessary to fund the Tertiary Education Subsidy will be included in the budgets of the
Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and will be administered by the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalan, hailed the swift passage of the bill by Congress which seeks to establish universal access to college and post-secondary technical-vocational education for all Filipinos.
“As long as they maintain good academic standing, no student pursuing their first degree at any public tertiary or post-secondary institution of learning will ever have to pay a single centavo for tuition and other school fees,” Gatchalian said.