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Legarda Hails Launch of IRR for Free College Education

March 26, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the launch of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10931, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017, which will subsidize tuition fee and other school fees of students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local state universities and colleges (LUCs), and state-run technical vocational institutions (TVIs).

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that the implementation of RA 10931, a law that she co-authored and co-sponsored, will start for Academic Year 2018-2019 through the Php40 Billion budget that Congress allocated under the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“When the law was enacted in 2017, there was no budget for its implementation because the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP) was already submitted at the time of enactment. I knew it was a challenge to fund the law, but it was definitely not impossible. True enough, we were able to allocate Php40 Billion for its implementation this year,” said Legarda.

In fact, the free tuition in SUCs is already being implemented in the current Academic Year 2017-2018 due to the intervention of Legarda, who pushed for the additional Php8.3 Billion allocation under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) budget for 2017.

With the 2018 budget for free tertiary education, Filipino students who will enroll in Academic Year 2018-2019 for a bachelor’s degree in any SUC or LUC, as well as enrollees in any post-secondary Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in state-run TVIs, are exempted from paying tuition and other school fees.

Other school fees include admission, registration, entrance, development, guidance, athletic and cultural fees, as well as fees for library, computer, laboratory, school ID, handbook, medical, dental, and other similar or related fees charged by SUCs, LUCs and TVIs which cover other necessary costs supportive of instruction.

“While the law mandates SUCs, LUCs and TVIs to create a mechanism to enable students with the financial capacity to pay for their education to voluntarily opt out of the tuition and other school fees subsidy, I urge CHED to strengthen monitoring of the implementation of the law to ensure that we are prioritizing those who truly need this subsidy,” said Legarda.

All SUCs, LUCs and TVET institutions should also formulate and implement affirmative action programs to enhance access of disadvantaged students, such as Lumads, Muslims, and other indigenous peoples; persons with disabilities; students from public schools; and students from depressed areas.

Meanwhile, Legarda urged CHED and SUCs to ensure that their proposed budget for 2019 for the implementation of the free college education law would be sufficient.

“Education is the best investment for our nation and our people. It is incumbent upon us to prioritize education in our budget in order to cultivate leaders and nation builders of tomorrow and we must ensure that every Filipino is given a fair chance to access quality education that will open better opportunities for growth,” Legarda concluded.