Around 141,000 eligible tertiary education students can now be assured of free or subsidized tuition fees as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved, once again, the release of additional funding for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education – Tertiary Education Subsidy (UAQTE-TES) under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
DBM Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman approved a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) amounting to P3.84 billion for the purpose.
“Tulad po ng lagi kong sinasabi, our youth are the torchbearers of our future. That is why it’s important that we support them by developing their skills and uplifting their spirits. ‘Yan din po ang marching order ng ating Pangulong Bongbong Marcos dahil alam niya ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon. So, on our part po, we will continue to help democratize access to quality education,” Secretary Pangandaman said.
“Malaking bagay po ang free and subsidized tuition fee. Imagine, ‘yung ipapambayad sa matrikula, maaari na lang ilaan ng mga magulang o ng working student sa iba pa nilang pangangailangan araw-araw gaya ng pagkain, pambayad sa kuryente, tubig, o panggastos sa pagpapagamot. This will lighten the burden on their shoulders. DBM will ensure that this program will continue to get the funding it rightfully deserves,” Pangandaman added.
The amount released shall cover the payables of CHED to various Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs) in municipalities and cities with ‘No State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and No Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs)’ under the UAQTE-TES for Academic Year 2021-2022.
As of 31 December 2022, the CHED-Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) stood at P10.967 billion under Automatic Appropriations.
Prior to the latest release in the amount of P3.835 billion, the DBM has previously released an amount of P799.098 million on 03 February 2023 for various programs and projects of CHED and an amount of P1 billion for the implementation of Student Monetary Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Program on 29 August 2023. Thus, the estimated balance after the September 29 release will be at P5.33 billion.
As coordinated with CHED, the corresponding Notice of Allocation (NCA) may be requested upon obligation, subject to the submission of a Special Budget Request, together with the complete and consistent supporting documents.
Republic Act (RA) No. 10931, otherwise known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is “an act promoting universal access to quality tertiary education by providing free tuition and other school fees in State Universities and Colleges, Local Universities and Colleges, and State-Run Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs), establishing the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) and Student Loan Program, strengthening the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education, and appropriating fund therefore.”
According to the law, all Filipino students who will enroll in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) will be exempted from paying tuition and other school fees.
The TES, meanwhile, is a grant-in-aid program of the government that supports the cost of tertiary education of Filipino students who enroll in their first undergraduate-post-secondary program in SUCs, LUCs, private HEIs, and TVIs. It is one of the major components of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“Creating a progressive change in our society can only be achieved if we start to believe in the capabilities of these young people,” Secretary Pangandaman said.