Recto: Give free tuition to 1M state college students in 2017 budget
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto is pushing for a free tuition fund for a million students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the proposed 2017 national budget.
Recto's proposed amendment in the 2017 budget seeks to appropriate P8 billion to the Commission on Higher Education for the fund to be lodged under the new Higher Education Support Fund.
The proposed fund will be distributed among 114 SUCs. The allocation will be based on the SUCs' projected collections for the following years, as reported in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) document.
For 2017, SUC tuition earnings are projected at P7.78 billion ($156.19 million) of the total expected income of P17.62 billion ($353.75 million).
Recto clarified that the P8-billion fund will only pay for tuition fees and not other miscellaneous expenses like dormitory use and laboratory fees.
The free tuition fund will cover students from families who are part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Recto said it will guarantee that students from poor families will not spend on tuition fees.
Recto also said that the Congress can easily write a provision in the national budget to make state college tuition free, but the SUCs will be on the losing end if the government does not pay the expected income.
“Kasi doon din kinukuha ng lahat ng SUCs ang ilang gastusin tulad ng sweldo, allowances, pambili ng supplies, pagpagawa ng mga gusali (The SUCs use that to pay for expenses such as employee salaries, allowances, supplies, to build infrastructure),” Recto said.
Aside from the free tuition fund, the Senate has also included Recto's proposed amendment to add P5.7 billion ($114.51 million) to SUC capital outlays, and equipment and other capital expenditures from P9 billion ($180.80 million) to P14.98 billion ($300.93 million).
With the proposed increase, each SUC will receive about P50 million ($1 million) for capital outlay.
The proposed CHED budget, with the Senate's proposed amendments, increased to P71 billion from P56 billion in the proposed 2017 National Expenditure Program.
“The minority has done its part. It has redeemed the promise made by all presidential candidates in the last election that tuition in state colleges will be free. It is up to the majority to uphold this or not,” Recto said. (READ: 14 things the Senate minority wants to see in the 2017 budget)
Dubbed as "Budget for Real Change," the proposed national budget for next year amounts to P3.35 trillion. It is 11.6% higher than the 2016 national budget and is the highest amount proposed by any administration so far.– Rappler.com
*$1 = P49.78