By Hannah Torregoza
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara today reminded the government that poor students are entitled to allowances under the free college law.
Thus, Angara said the government should ensure that poor students would benefit from the subsidy that would cover not only tuition but also other school expenses as mandated under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“Our students can finally enjoy the benefits under the free college law starting next school year,” Angara said.
“Bukod sa libreng matrikula at miscellaneous fees, may dagdag tulong pinansyal ito para sa mga mahihirap na mag-aaral para sa gastusin sa mga libro, pamasahe, dorm, at iba pa,(Other than free tuition and miscellaneous fees, the law provides additional financial assistance to poor students for their books, transportation needs, dormitory fees and other expenses),” he added.
Angara has lauded the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board for finally coming up with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the free college law.
The law has an initial funding of P40 billion which covers the tuition, miscellaneous and other school fees of students enrolled in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs), and all technical-vocation education and training (TVET) programs registered under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
He said the law requires SUCs, LUCs and TVET institutions to formulate and implement affirmative action programs to enhance access of disadvantaged students, such as lumads, Muslims and other indigenous peoples; persons with disabilities; students from public schools; and students from depressed areas.
Under the law, Angara highlighted the creation of a Tertiary Education Subsidy which will cover the allowance for books, supplies, transportation, room and board, personal computer or laptop, and other education-related personal expenses of poor students. This subsidy would also provide financial support for the tuition and other fees of poor students enrolled in private colleges and universities.
Students included in the “Listahanan” would be prioritized as eligible beneficiaries of the subsidy and be managed by the UniFAST Board.
“Ang tuition ay maliit na bahagi lamang ng kabuuang cost of college education (Tuition is just a small part of the whole cost of college education),” he said.
“Dapat ay sagutin din ng gobyerno ang iba pang gastusin sa pag-aaral upang higit na matulungan ang ating mahihirap na estudyante na makapagtapos ng kolehiyo, (the government should shoulder the other expenses the students need so they can study and finish college),” the senator stressed.