A SOLON wants learners from low-income families and those under the Social Welfare Department’s “Listahanan 2.0” to first benefit from the free higher education law.
Senator Win Gatchalian singled out the said students as beneficiaries of the “Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES)” under the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act 10931).”
“Listahanan…” is an information-management system that identifies who and where the country’s poor are.
Gatchalian previously flagged the crowding out of students from low-income households in the pool of TES beneficiaries, which he said is not consistent with the intention of the free higher education law. The subsidy provides additional funding for education-related costs including books, transportation, board and lodging, and allowances for disability-related expenses, among others.
“We observed that for TES grantees, beneficiaries from places where there are no state colleges and universities or SUCs and local universities and colleges or LUCs are slowly eating up the share of the Listahanan grantees,” the lawmaker said during his interpellation of the 2024 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). “We aim to reverse this trend and stay true to the spirit of the law, wherein Listahanan beneficiaries and low-income families will be prioritized.”
As of the second semester of Academic Year (AY) 2022-2023, 79 percent of TES grantees are students from areas with no SUCs and LUCs, leaving only 21 percent from Listahanan, and zero percent from beneficiaries of the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” or 4Ps.
In 2018, 68 percent of TES grantees were from Listahanan, 25 percent came from areas without SUCs and LUCs, and 3 percent were from 4Ps beneficiaries. The latter program provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged zero to 18.
The Senate Committee on Finance has accepted an amendment that Gatchalian proposed on Special Provision No. 3 of CHED’s proposed 2024 budget. It now stipulates that in the selection of new TES grantees, the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) shall prioritize students under Listahanan 2.0, and those from low-income households who are not part of such. They will be required to submit proof of income to UniFAST, whose board administers the TES.
Through this special provision, Gatchalian seeks to reaffirm the intention of Section 7 of the free higher education law.