CHEd clarifies: Only incoming merit-based scholarships slated for suspension
MANILA, Philippines – Only new applications for merit scholarships or educational support based on academic performances would be temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) clarified on Friday.
CHEd chairperson Prospero De Vera III explained that all other grant programs like the reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs), the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), and the Student Loan Program (SLP) would continue as allocated funds remain intact.
Even the current CHEd merit scholarship program beneficiaries would continue to receive benefits, but new applications would not be entertained for now to help the government in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to De Vera, the clarification comes after some media reports, he claimed, appeared as if all scholarship programs would be halted.
“The media reports gave the impression that all [CHEd] scholarship programs are being cut due to the implementation of National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 580 by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” De Vera said in a statement.
“This is to urgently support and contribute to the government’s efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to prioritize need-based scholarships rather than merit-based scholarship,” he added.
De Vera also explained this issue during a Senate committee hearing on Thursday, as the legislative body was looking to discuss measures for the educational sector amid the pandemic.
The CHEd head said that there was supposed to be 2,467 new slots for incoming freshman college students in the merit-based scholarship, which is a yearly grant given to students based on their grades from the previous school year.
The merit-based grants take on two forms — full merit and a half-merit for student applicants. The said scholarship scheme would have shouldered incoming freshman students’ tuition fees, miscellaneous fees and other education expenses.
“With the available funding, we can only cover existing scholars to ensure their continuous education during these difficult times. This temporary suspension is intended to financially support national programs for financially vulnerable families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” De Vera said.
Due to the lockdowns to avoid local coronavirus transmissions, classes, along with non-essential work, were suspended.
Education authorities are mulling creating an alternative way for education to continue within the confines of a student’s home, to prevent mass infections — although it has been met with resistance from students who complain of inadequate gadgets and slow internet speeds.
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