State universities and colleges, including the University of the Philippines, will no longer collect tuition starting next school year, Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan and Senator Loren Legarda announced on Friday.
The officials made the announcement following the approval of the CHED's P8.3-billion allocation along with the rest of the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017.
“For that P8 billion, that's purely for tuition. That's purely to remove tuition from the students' expenses. So ngayon, they can say that sa lahat ng state universities and colleges (SUCs), wala nang tuition,” Licuanan said in an interview on "News To Go."
“That's the intention of the P8 billion. We cannot spend that P8 billion on anything else except to compensate the schools for the fact that they can no longer charge tuition, all state universities and colleges if fully implemented,” she added.
However, Licuanan said the commission was still working on how the said amount would be distributed among 113 SUCs.
“Logistically, it will be a little bit difficult too. How do you divide that P8 billion with 113 SUCs? Kasama na rin daw ang UP pala doon,” Licuanan said.
“So, what formula do you use? Ang tuition fee ng school times the number of enrollees. So mga challenges like that. But we are working on it,” she added.
Other grants also available
Legarda, the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, also made the announcement in a statement.
She said that while the budget would only cover tuition, indigent students may still avail of grants and aid for miscellaneous fees under various programs.
Legarda said the free tuition was to address the concerns of poor families who could not send their children to college.
“One of the long-standing concerns of poor families is bringing their children to college because after finishing high school in public schools, most of them have no means to pay for tuition fee in SUCs," Legarda said.
"The 2017 national budget addresses this concern,” she added.
Legarda said college students whose families are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program would be covered by the Expanded Students' Grants in Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation.
Those who are not could also avail of financial assistance from CHED through the Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs).
In the case private institutions, Licuanan said the commission was working with various government agencies to make tuition accessible yet viable and sustainable.
“We are working with the Philippine Institute for Development Students because much of this also is economics. We have recently imposed what was called "education deflators," something like an inflation rate for education regionally. And we said, 'You should not charge or increase tuition higher than that.' It's a work in progress,” Licuanan said.
What is important, Licuanan said, is that students will not pay unreasonable tuition fees.
“We don't want that the students have to pay unreasonable tuition fees. We don't want to price of education out of the market,” she said.