CHED says P20 billion needed for 2018 to implement free tuition law
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Thursday that a little over P20 billion is needed to implement the free tuition fee in state-run colleges and universities in 2018.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III said the projected budget includes P16.8 billion for the 112 state universities and colleges, and 16 local government-created universities, and P3-4 billion for the technical and vocational education under the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).
"So the amount that we're working on for the 2018 budget is a little over 20 billion pesos," he said.
He said CHED will source the fund from the current scholarship and financial assistance money already existing in the budget of some government agencies, such as CHED, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Agriculture.
"And then together with the House of Representatives and the Senate, we will look for other funding sources from the 2018 National Expenditure Program," De Vera said.
Congress has yet to approve the proposed 2018 budget amounting to P3.767 trillion.
De Vera said more than a million students are expected to benefit from the recently passed Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier admitted that he just signed the bill into law even if he did not know where to source the budget.
De Vera said under the implementing rules and regulations being crafted by CHED and other agencies, there would be "tightened admission" to ensure that there would be no exodus of students from the private educational institutions to state-run colleges and universities.
"They must retain their existing admission and retention policies and tighten it further by limiting the subsidy, for example, to students who are only in their first undergraduate degree --- meaning second degrees will not be covered; make sure that students enroll full load," he said.
"So students who will be enrolling in less than the full load should not be getting subsidy from government ensuring that they are strict in the number of units that every student must pass on a semester by semester basis," he added.
He cited that if the regular load is 21 units, a student should finish at least 18 or 15 units.
"So students who fail to complete the required number of units will lose their subsidy for that semester or maybe that year and once they go back and retain their being a student of good standing, then they receive subsidy from government again," he explained.
The CHED official said they hope to complete the IRR in 15 days. Celerina Monte/DMS