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Wala nang pera! College students to lose gov’t aid over CHED budget cuts

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College students receiving up to P12,000 a year in financial aid from the government for their education may end up losing this next year as the government cut the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) 2019 budget.

The government shaved P3 billion off the CHED’s current budget for the Student Financial Assistance Program or “Tulong Dunong,” leaving it with only P1.7 billion for 2019.

CHED officer-in-charge Prospero de Vera III said Thursday (September 20) at a Senate budget hearing that while students who would be hit by the budget cut may apply for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) instead, there are not enough slots to accommodate them.

“Hopefully, the Tulong Dunong scholars can apply for TES, but we only have 300,000 slots, and the 300,000 slots for TES would be divided between existing [grantees,]” De Vera told senators.

Unlike Tulong Dunong, funding for TES increased to P16 billion for 2019. With this, Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV are pushing CHED to place Tulong Dunong scholars under TES.

“The Tertiary Education Subsidy will be raised by P11 billion. We are urging the CHED to come up with a guideline to ensure that current beneficiaries of Tulong Dunong can still benefit from the increased funding for the Tertiary Education Subsidy,” Angara said.

He also said that senators would try to insert provisions in the General Appropriations Act which would spell out additional TES guidelines.

The TES was established by the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or Republic Act No. 10931 “to support the cost of tertiary education or any part or portion thereof.”

Under the implementing rules and regulations of the law, students who are currently grantees of CHED’s Expanded Students Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation are given top priority for the limited TES slots.

Students in private schools in cities and municipalities without state universities and colleges or local universities and colleges come next in line, followed by students in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Listahanan, which identifies who and where the poor are in the country, and those not in the Listahanan but can show proof of indigency.