New UP tuition scheme fails to impress students
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—A University of the Philippines (UP) tuition subsidy scheme being implemented for the first time this school year failed to impress students of the country’s premier academic institution despite the fast and easy processing of applications.
The Socialized Tuition System (STS) sets tuition discounts depending on the paying capacity of the student’s household, according to the UP website. It was approved by the UP Board of Regents on Dec. 13, 2013, replacing the former Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).
Unlike the STFAP, which required the submission of 14 pages of supporting documents, such as parents’ income tax return, the student applying for lower tuition under the STS needs only to fill out a two-page online form detailing the household’s total income, appliances and real properties.
The assessment is made based on the income and the socioeconomic characteristics of the household using a marketing and opinion research formula.
For UP units in Diliman (Quezon City), Los Baños and Manila, the tuition discounts are 33 percent, 60 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent and a 100-percent discount plus monthly stipend. Current tuition rate on these campuses is P1,500 per unit.
Results of STS applications were released on June 30 and did not impress students who posted their reactions on social media, which trended for days. The Inquirer tried to get a copy of the results on Tuesday but was told on Thursday that the release of such data would first require the approval of the Office of Student Affairs.
On Thursday, the Office of the Student Regent in UP Diliman called for a “grievance consultation” after postings of #BracketAKaNa, which were mostly expressions of dismay over the STS, trended on Twitter.
Carlo Santos from UP Diliman on Twitter wrote: “May litrato sa tabi ng magarang kotse? #BracketAKaNa
#KebsKungHindiSayo” (A picture beside an expensive car? You’re in Bracket A, even if you don’t own it.)
“Nababasa mo ’to? bale, nakakapagfacebook ka.
#BracketAKaNa, (You could read this? So you have Facebook access. You’re in Bracket A),” another post on Facebook read.
Although the STS uses the terms “partial and full discounts,” UP Los Baños (UPLB) student Mark Angelo Bucay, 20, said the hashtag “Bracket A” must have come from the former scheme, which categorized subsidies into Brackets A to E. Students under Bracket A paid full tuition while those in Bracket E qualified for full scholarship.
Bucay, who used to pay P300 per unit, said he was being charged P1,000 per unit based on the STS results. He believed that this was because his sister, who has her own family to support, found a job as an overseas Filipino worker.
In UPLB, 10,093 (both freshmen and upperclassmen) out of the 12,610 student population applied for tuition discounts under the STS.
Students who are unsatisfied with the results of their application could appeal for a bigger discount until July, according to Roy Peñaflor, head of the UPLB Scholarships and Financial Assistance Division.
He said the university was also assessing “discrepancies or errors” in the new scheme, if there were any.
UP student regent Neill John Macuha said in a phone interview on Thursday that his office had not yet determined the number of students who are eligible for discounts and wanted to assess the actual feedback of the students.
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