Apprised that some 400,000 students will be deprived of free college education, Senator Win Gatchalian vowed to find additional funding for next year’s higher education programs.
Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, said more funds would ensure that qualified students can go to college through financial assistance.
During the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the proposed budgets of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), CHED chairman Prospero De Vera III said some 379,000 qualified Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) applicants were not covered due to lack of funding.
He said 226,000 of these students were enrolled in private schools, and at the risk discontinuing their studies.
De Vera also said over P10 billion is needed to cover these 226,000 students.
For academic year 2022-2023, there are also no funds for new TES grantees.
The TES provides additional funding for education-related costs, including books, transportation, board and lodging, and allowances for disability-related expenses, among others.
De Vera also said there are no funds allotted for new TES grantees for “Listahanan 2.0” for academic year 2023-2024. Listahanan 2.0 is an information management system that identifies the poor families and where they are located.
“I’m with you in making sure that our students are studying and that the spirit of the free higher education law is being faithfully implemented. Unfortunately, we are depriving 226,000 students of education because the government did not allocate more funding,” Gatchalian told CHED.
The lawmaker also assured CHED that he will help secure funds that will allow six new CHED-recognized Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) to avail of free tuition. The CHED noted that while these six LUCs are already institutionally accredited, they are currently not assured of reimbursements for tuition and miscellaneous fees. A budget of P200 million is needed so that an estimated 17,000 students enrolled in these six LGUs can avail of free higher education.
Gatchalian is a co-author and co-sponsor of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931) or Free Higher Education Act, which exempts college students enrolled in SUCs and qualified LUCs from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees. Macon Ramos-Araneta