Press Release
September 20, 2018

Amid P3-billion Tulong Dunong fund cut

Senator Sonny Angara has urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that the most deserving and poorest of the poor students will benefit from the P27-billion subsidy that will provide student allowance as mandated by the Free College law.

Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act has created a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) that aims to cover allowance for books, supplies, transportation, room and board, and other education-related personal expenses of poor students.

For this year, the Free College Law received a total of P40-billion funding--P16 billion of which goes to TES, which will be implemented for the first time this year.

With the P16-billion allocation, CHED said around 300,000 poor students from both public and private higher education institutions can get up to P60,000 allowance for this academic year.

"For next year, the Free College Law will get a bigger funding of P51 billion. P27 billion of which will go to the Tertiary Education Subsidy. The number of beneficiaries will also go up to 500,000 poor students," said Angara, vice chairperson of the finance committee tasked to defend and sponsor CHED's budget.

However, while the TES budget increased by P11 billion for next year, CHED's Tulong Dunong program decreased from P4.19 billion this year to P1.19 billion in 2019.

Under the Tulong Dunong program, each student enrolled in either a public or private university as recommended by local government officials will be granted P12,000 worth of financial assistance in a year.

With the budget cut, CHED Commission Prospero De Vera said more or less 350,000 student beneficiaries of Tulong Dunong will be affected.

"To clarify the issue, while the Tulong Dunong program will be cut by P3 billion, the Tertiary Education Subsidy will be raised by P11 billion. We are urging the CHED to come up with a guideline to ensure that current beneficiaries of Tulong Dunong can still benefit from the increased funding for the Tertiary Education Subsidy," Angara said.

"Para naman walang iskolar ang mawawalan ng benepisyo," added the senator, vice chairman of the education committee and one of the authors of the Free College Law.

Under RA 10931's implementing rules, prioritization of TES beneficiaries will apply in the following order: 1) continuing grantees of the existing CHED's Expanded Students Grants in Aid Program belonging to 4Ps families; 2) students studying in private schools in cities and municipalities with no existing state university and college (SUC) or local university and college (LUC); 3) students included in the Listahanan 2.0; and, 4) those not in the Listahanan 2.0 but can show proof of indigency.

Angara, who is a staunch advocate of education reforms, stressed that free tuition is not enough, and providing allowance to poor students would be a big help for them to finish their studies.

Angara's committee, together with the support of other senators, is likewise responsible for the across-the-board P10-million increase in the capital outlay of 112 SUCs in the country to enable all SUCs to upgrade their infrastructure and equipment.

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