Bill granting free tuition in SUCs OKd in Senate
Eighteen senators on Monday voted to pass on third and final reading a bill that would provide tuition subsidies and financial assistance to students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and private higher learning and vocational institutions.
Senator Benigno Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1304 or the “Free Higher Education for All Act,” said the measure seeks to make “higher education accessible to financially disadvantaged but deserving students,” through tuition subsidies and financial assistance to SUCs.
“In line with the mandate of our Constitution, the State must uphold the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels,” Aquino said in a speech when he sponsored the bill on the floor as former chair of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, co-author and co-sponsor of the bill, expanded the measure to cover students in “public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and technical-vocational (TVIs).”
Under the bill, all Filipino citizens currently enrolled in SUCs and other covered institutions, as well as those who will enroll in the future in courses in pursuance of a bachelor’s degree, certificate degree, or any comparable undergraduate degree in any SUC can qualify for the tuition subsidy “provided that they meet the admission requirements of the SUC.”
“This bill is for the Filipino youth who are struggling to finish their college education, and as well as their parents who are working hard to pay for the expenses of their schooling,” Aquino said.
However, people who had attained a bachelor’s degree or any equivalent degree, had been discharged from any higher education institution, or those who “failed to complete their degree or non-degree within a year after the prescribed period in their program” would be “ineligible for the proposed tuition subsidies.”
Aquino said there are 645,566 students in the country’s SUCs and it would likely cost the government about P16 billion annually to make tuition fees free across these institutions, noting that the annual weighted average tuition in SUCs is P9,407 per year.
“It’s a fair price to embolden and empower more Filipinos to achieve their dreams—for themselves, for their families, and for their country,” he said.
“If we pass SBN 1304, we’re investing in the future of your promising Filipinos,” he further said.
Other co-authors of the bill, aside from Aquino and Recto, are Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Leila de Lima, Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Richard “Dick” Gordon, Loren Legarda, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Cynthia Villar, Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri. RAM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.