SENATOR Francis Escudero on Sunday vowed not to allow the law providing financial assistance to students to end up like other laws that only look good on paper.
Escudero was referring to the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act (UniFAST), which was signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd last October, providing comprehensive financial assistance to students in the tertiary level.
Unlike typical scholarship programs, he said, the UniFAST covers all students, not only those with exemplary scholastic records and those who graduated with honors.
“In short this is not a scholarship program, which only accommodates honor students. We should give all students a chance to graduate from college,” said Escudero, the leading vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections based on the latest Pulse Asia survey.
The only requirement for a student to be accepted in the program, the senator added, is his or her desire to go school.
Republic Act 10687 or the UniFAST, which was authored by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, mandates the government to put up a system and create a body that would oversee and harmonize all student financial assistance programs for a more targeted, speedy and sustained granting of scholarship programs.
A study by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has revealed that while the government had in place up to 62 student financial assistance programs, these programs have only assisted about 60,000 students or a mere 2 percent of the 2.7 million Filipino college students.
The UniFAST law aims to establish a self-sustaining National Student Loan Program that would provide students short- and long-term financial assistance for tertiary education.
“It is ‘study now, pay later’ scheme for college students who are committed to finishing their courses,” Escudero said.
He added that he will make sure that the law will be fully and effectively implemented and that the government would not hesitate to spend taxpayers’ money on programs like UniFAST because “education spending is an investment in our future.”
The senator expressed belief that student assistance program will help improve enrolment and completion rate in tertiary education, especially among the poor.