Press Release
March 10, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara has stressed the need for a more targeted and harmonious student financial assistance system in the country.

In his co-sponsorship speech on Monday on Senate Bill No. 2679 or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act, Angara said while there are hundreds of thousands of poor but deserving students in the country, the Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) student financial assistance programs in 2011 only served 60,000 or two percent of 2.7 million tertiary-level students.

"Government had in place up to 62 student financial assistance programs across 17 agencies. Though some programs performed fairly well, a majority had low coverage. More worrisome were the results of a CHED-commissioned study that showed how these programs were increasingly enjoyed by student beneficiaries from higher income families," said Angara, a known advocate of educational reforms.

The UniFAST bill was reported out last week by the Senate education committee chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano.

Under the proposed measure, students who have laudable academic performance will be given priority in the grant of scholarships while underprivileged students, especially whose families are recipients of the conditional cash transfer program, will be prioritized in the provision of grants-in-aid.

Student loans will also be extended to students facing liquidity problems, regardless of economic status.

SB 2679 further seeks to establish a socialized tuition fee scheme, based on the student's personal circumstances, family income and socio-economic characteristics, which will be used as a guide by state universities and colleges and public technical-vocational institutes throughout the country.

"We merely seek to put up a system that harmonizes our student financial assistance programs and makes their administration more effective and efficient. With such a system, we empower not just CHED, but all other government agencies, to ensure that their student financial assistance rightly go to who needs it and where it's needed the most," Angara said.

In addition, the lawmaker noted that while each government agency administered their student assistance program, not a single tracer study was conducted to check whether the assistance government extended had actually reached those who deserved it and whether such assistance helped students land decent jobs and earn higher salaries.

"Tertiary education, a proven stepping ladder towards a better life, remains inaccessible and expensive to many. Hopefully, through such scheme, we step closer to realizing our goals of having one college graduate in every Filipino family. We as a country pay a bigger price when we fail to provide our people enough options and opportunities at availing an education," Angara said.

News Latest News Feed