Bam Aquino defends free tuition in state colleges
Sen. Bam Aquino, proponent of the higher education bill that seeks to mandate tuition-free college education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), said majority of Filipino students who were not necessarily from the “poorest of the poor” still faced financial difficulties in paying for a higher education.
Issuing a point-by-point rebuttal to an earlier position paper from the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), Aquino said that while FEF was correct in saying that only 12 percent of the poorest of the poor are in SUCs, a large percentage of these people are not able to go to college because of financial and other limitations.
FEF had said that the proposal to increase funding for free tuition to SUCs would benefit higher-income students and provide unfair competition to private institutions which are more efficient in providing higher education.
The group said providing P8.3 billion to SUCs for free tuition would be “antipoor” because this considered only tuition in the cost of higher education.
The economists argued that students from poor families only comprised a small proportion of SUCs’ student population who could hardly pay for the full cost of attending college.
Aquino cited the following estimates from the Annual Poverty Indicator Survey 2014 to argue for free SUC education:
- 49 percent of students in SUCs come from the bottom 50 percent of the population, from income levels determined by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies that need full support—tuition plus other educational expenses and living allowance—to finish college;
- Up to 71 percent of students in SUCs come from families that do not have disposable income, with monthly family income of around P29,000 or less and these are the families struggling to send their children to school;
- Only up to 28 percent of students in SUCs come from families that can comfortably send one child to school, with monthly family income of more than P29,000;
- Only up to 17 percent of students in SUCs come from families with monthly family income higher than P40,000;
- Only up to 7 percent of students in SUCs come from families with monthly family income of more than P78,000;
• Some 40.7 percent of students aged 16 to 17 will not continue their studies because of financial concerns or high cost of education. This is the reason why only one out of four students in college graduate.
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