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PRRD Year 2: Free tuition fuels hope for many Filipino families

PRRD Year 2: Free tuition fuels hope for many Filipino families
By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA -- High-cost of tuition in college is a major factor that keeps students from pursuing or finishing higher education. With the full implementation of the free college education law, there's no more stopping them from realizing their dream profession.

One of the many Filipino students who stand to benefit from this new government program is 20-year-old Mark John Quinagoran who studies BS Civil Engineering at Cagayan State University.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Quinagoran said the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act ensures a bright future not only for him but also for his entire family.

“Malaking tulong po kasi sa buong pamilya ko ang batas na ito kagaya po kay papa, ‘yung pera na gagamitin niya sa tuition ko, maipanggagastos na lang niya sa mga kapatid ko, kumbaga mas mapupunan nang maayos ang pangangailangan nila (This law is a big help to us because like with my father, the money he’s saving for my tuition, he can now use it for my younger siblings, it’s like their needs are well met),” he said. Quinagoran is now on his fourth year in college.

His father is a trailer truck driver who has been single-handedly rearing him and his younger siblings -- two of them are elementary students while the other is a junior high school student. He said his father doesn’t have a fixed monthly income because of the nature of his work.

“Sometimes, he earns a minimum of PHP2,000 weekly po at the most PHP5,000 weekly pero sobrang bihira po iyon (but it rarely happens),” he said.

Prior to the enactment of the free tuition law, Quinagoran said he used to pay more than PHP3,000 every semester for his tuition and miscellaneous fees in 2015 and 2016.

Since his father usually spends his daily wage on their family’s basic needs, Quinagoran said there were times when he was unable to secure an exam permit due to unsettled fees.

“Ang pinakamataas kong binayaran noon ay PHP4,500. Nung nakaraang taon naipatupad ang free tuition pero hindi pa po applied sa university namin, nung second semester last year hindi na kami pinagbayad at nagtaka po kami na ibinalik sa amin ‘yung binayad naming tuition noong first semester (The highest [tuition and fees] I’ve paid before is PHP4,500. Last year the free tuition was already implemented but not yet applied in our university. It was during second semester last year we were not asked to pay and we’re surprised that they returned our payment for the first semester),” he said.

Recalling how he used to complain over the expensive school supplies of his well-off cousins who were taking engineering, Quinagoran said he never thought that he would be able to pursue the same course, given their family’s financial status.

“Kahit mahal ang kurso ko na engineering posible palang makuha ng kagaya ko, utak na lang ang puhunan ko po at ang suporta ay galing sa pamahalaan (My course, engineering, is an expensive course but it is possible for someone like me to take it, my brain is my capital and the support comes from the government)," he said.

STUDENTS ENJOY FREE COLLEGE TUITION. (Clockwise) Jomari Castigador, Yvinn Borondia, Mark Quinagoran, and Ma. Beth Aboganda enjoy the free college tuition that started this school year. Under Republic Act 10931 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last year, college students need not pay for their tuition, miscellaneous and other fees.
No more miscellaneous fees

Jomari Castigador, a college senior at Bicol University, told PNA that he did not pay for the miscellaneous fees this school year because of the full implementation of RA 10931.

“Last 2016 to 2017, we paid 200 to 300 pesos miscellaneous fees every semester but we didn’t pay any tuition, pero ngayon wala na po talaga kaming binayaran kahit miscellaneous para sa (but now we really didn’t pay any miscellaneous for) computer lab, library, etc.,” he said.

Castigador said he simply submitted a certificate of registration and attendance for the previous semester to be enrolled and obtain class schedules for this school year.

“Not paying the miscellaneous fees is a big help for us because we can use the money for our daily fare, allowance or pambayad sa boarding house lalo pa si papa walang saktong sweldo sa isang buwan bilang nagbebenta ng soft drinks at driver (payment for boarding house especially since Papa doesn’t have a fixed monthly income from selling soft drinks and being a driver),” he said.

Other college scholarships

Quinagoran said he continues to receive half merit scholarship from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), alongside being a beneficiary of the free college education act.

“Natatanggap ko pa rin po ‘yung (I still receive the) half merit scholarship from CHED na PHP7,500 per semester kahit 'di na ako nagbabayad ng (even if I'm no longer paying for) tuition, malaking tulong po iyan dahil pambili ko ng (that's a big help for me in buying) books and I'm thankful for President Duterte for all these,” he said.

The same is true for Yvinn Borondia, another senior college student from Bicol University. She still receives PHP15,000 per semester as part of her full merit scholarship from CHED.

“Walang tuition na po tapos ‘yung pera from CHED para sa school supplies... kaya malaking tulong lahat iyan sa amin (There’s no more tuition then the money from CHED will be used for school supplies... so it is a big help for us),” she said.

Since both of her parents are jobless, Borondia submitted a certificate of indigency and a copy of her general weighted average to CHED and applied for the scholarship.

Grateful for the free tuition

Luz Aboganda, a sari-sari store owner whose granddaughter Maria Beth is a college junior at the Quezon City Polytechnic University, expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for implementing the free college education act.

“Salamat sa pangulo kasi may ganyang batas at napag-aaral ko ang apo ko ngayon ng kursong business management nang libre. Marami kasing mga projects sa ganyang mamahaling kurso tapos dati pa nagbabayad pa kami ng tuition (Thank you to the president for a law like that I was able to send my granddaughter to college with business management course for free. There are lots of projects in an expensive course like that then before we’re still paying for tuition),” she said.

Quezon City Polytechnic University, a semi-private university, previously requires its students to pay a minimum of PHP6,000 per semester for their tuition and miscellaneous fees.

"Kung ang apo ko ay makakatapos malaking tulong iyon sa mga kapatid niya sa probinsya dahil kapag tapos siya ng college makakakuha siya ng magandang trabaho, aangat sila sa kahirapan, 'di ba (If my granddaughter will be able to graduate, that would be a great help for her siblings in the province because if she finishes college she can get a good job, they will rise from poverty)," Aboganda added.

Starting June 2018, students enrolled in 112 state universities and colleges and 78 local universities and colleges can already enjoy free tuition and fees.

The government has allocated PHP40 billion for the school year 2018 to 2019 -- PHP16 billion for the Tertiary Education Subsidy, PHP7 billion for Technical-Vocational Education and Training, PHP1 billion for the Student Loan Program, and PHP16 billion for Free Higher Education.

Under RA 10931, enrolled college students need not pay for their tuition, miscellaneous and other similar or related fees.

Duterte signed the free college education bill it into law on August 3, 2017. (With reports from Lyda Gail Suyu-OJT/PNA)

PRRD Year 2: Free tuition fuels hope for many Filipino families PRRD Year 2: Free tuition fuels hope for many Filipino families Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 2:25:00 AM Rating: 5

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