CHED debunks COA report on underutilization of P8-B free tuition fund
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Tuesday denied the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) over its alleged low utilization of the P8-billion budget intended to cover the funding for the free tuition law.
CHED Officer-in-Charge Prospero De Vera said in a statement that 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) have been reimbursed for academic year 2017 to 2018, contrary to the COA audit report which blamed SUCs for late submission of billing statements detailing each student-beneficiary.
The state auditors claimed that CHED only utilized P1.4 billion of the P8-billion budget allotted to beneficiaries of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act since its enactment last year.
“Contrary to media reports alleging that there is very low disbursement of the P8-B Free Tuition Fund to state universities and colleges, almost all of the 112 state universities and colleges, have been reimbursed for the first and second semesters of AY 2017-2018,” De Vera said in a statement.
De Vera said the remaining unspecified fund balance is for claims of SUCs for the summer or midterm and for those with additional billings.
Only the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) and the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College (AMPSC) were not reimbursed since the former has its own budget allocation, while the latter failed to report its 2017 income, De Vera claimed.
“The balance left from the P8B fund are being processed for reimbursements for the summer or midterm of AY 2017-2018 claims of SUCs, and those that have appealed and presented additional billings based on actual enrollment numbers in said academic year,” he noted.
Under the free tuition law, the budget allocation per SUC is based on the estimated tuition income of each higher education institution.
The SUCs will then bill the Commission for the total tuition subsidies awarded to students subject to their budget ceiling per semester, which shall not exceed 50 percent of the allocation.
De Vera noted that delays in the reimbursement to SUCs were caused by the difference in the fiscal and academic years, noting that one academic year covers two fiscal years.
The CHED official added that the 2017 budget has a special provision that mandates SUCs to “prioritize poor but deserving students,” forcing SUCs to include an income-based ranking of their students in the reimbursement claims. /ee