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CHED probes non-payment of subsidies to poor students; UniFAST funds diverted to school renovation, non-scholars

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The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has launched an investigation into the reported withholding by at least four private colleges in Region 12 or Soccsksargen of portions of the national government’s subsidy for poor college students.

Engr. Ronaldo Liveta, officer-in-charge of CHED-Region 12, on Thursday said the move came after the agency received around 100 complaints from beneficiaries of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).

Liveta said the complainants were students of Korbel Foundation College Inc. and Regency Polytechnic College in Koronadal City, GenSantos Foundation College Inc. here and General Santos Academy (GSA) Inc. in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

“According to the complaints, these schools, for various reasons, did not release the full amount of the subsidy intended for the beneficiaries,” he said in an interview over Brigada News FM here.

Under the UniFAST, Liveta said poor tertiary students stand to receive a tertiary education subsidy of P60,000 every school year, covering two semesters, and with the funds channeled to their enrolled schools.

He said the P20,000 was allotted for tuition and other school fees while the PHP40,000 was intended for the allowance or stipend and other school-related needs of the student-beneficiaries.

He explained that since the subsidy was only released at the end of the current school year, students who already paid their school fees should get a refund.

But he said some beneficiaries were not properly reimbursed and the concerned schools even made substantial cuts with the allotment for the stipends.

“Some students only received P20,000 out of the subsidy. That’s not proper based on the implementing guidelines of UniFAST,” he said.

In the case of GSA in Polomolok, the school only released PP20,000 for the stipend of over a thousand student-beneficiaries.

The students were made to sign a “pledge of donation,” allowing the
school to use portions of the allotment for stipend to improve its
facilities and pay for the fees of the non-scholars.

Dominador Dizon, GSA president, admitted in an interview with the same
radio station that they implemented the scheme.

Dizon claimed that their intention was to provide subsidy to around 500 students, some of whom were supposedly members of the Indigenous Peoples who were not approved as beneficiaries.

But Liveta countered that the scheme is “not allowed under the guidelines. The beneficiaries should get what they deserve.”

The official said he has deployed investigation teams to the concerned schools to verify the complaints.

He said their office “will act accordingly” based on the results of the investigation and the extent of the violations to the UniFAST guidelines.

“Our goal here is to make the necessary corrections so it will not happen again. We will also work with the schools since they are our partners in this program,” he added. (PNA)

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