Senators find funding for college students
Students who stand to lose financial aid as a result of the P3.2-billion cut in the budget for programs extending them assistance could be covered under the P27-billion Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for 2019 of the free college tuition law, senators said on Thursday.
At a hearing on the budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the senators pointed out that the subsidy for the TES actually increased by P11 billion to P27 billion in 2019, despite the huge cut in the Tulong Dunong scholarship giving students stipends of P6,000 to P12,000 a year.
The budget department also slashed the P250-million subsidy for the tuition of medical students in eight state colleges and universities.
Sen. Sonny Angara said that while the budget for Tulong Dunong would be cut by P3 billion to P1.1 billion, the allocation for the TES would 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.”
According to the CHEd officer in charge, Prospero de Vera III, the more than 300,000 Tulong Dunong beneficiaries need to apply to be included in the TES, which sets certain criteria for those who will be covered.
But De Vera said he could not guarantee that all of them would be accepted since certain requirements had to be met.
The TES could cover beneficiaries of the slashed subsidy programs with the inclusion of a new provision in the budget bill that would give the CHEd some flexibility in determining the beneficiaries, said Sen. Bam Aquino.
Aquino said the CHEd could reduce the subsidies given under the TES to college students who do not come from the poorest of the poor sectors so that more students could be covered.
At present, financial assistance to a student under the TES amounts to P40,000 to P60,000 per year, he noted.
“There’s no reason why we cannot accommodate all of these students,” Aquino said.
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