8 things you need to know about the free tuition law

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Filipino students will begin benefitting from the free tuition law starting school year 2018 to 2019. 

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) officer-in-charge Prospero de Vera III said P40 billion has been allotted for the first year of implementation of Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

The law covers the tuition and fees of students enrolled in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs), and all technical-vocation education and training (TVET) programs registered under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The IRR was formally launched on Monday, March 26. 

What are the salient points of the IRR? Who can benefit from the free tuition law and who are disqualified from it?

Read the list below: 

1. Free tuition for all required classes during the semester. These classes must be part of the curriculum and are essential in obtaining a degree. Approved petitioned classes are covered, too, but review or enhancement classes are not covered.

The free tuition law also covers the fees of Filipino learners enrolled in any TESDA-registered TVET program.

2. Free miscellaneous and other school fees. The law covers payment for fees for the use of libraries, computers and laboratories, school identification card, athletics, admissions, development, guidance services, handbook, entrance, registration, medical and dental services, and cultural activities.

Should you wish to have another copy of your school identification card, library identification card, and student handbook, you will have to pay extra. 

3. Affirmative action programs for minorities. The law requires SUCs, LUCs, and TVET program providers to craft programs to make it easier for disadvantaged students to avail of the free tuition law. They may include students who are Lumad, Muslims, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and students from public high schools and depressed areas.  

4. Opt-out mechanism. Students with the financial capacity can volunteer to opt out of the free higher education provision. SUCs, LUCs, and TVET providers are therefore required to create a system that would enable students to do so.

Students must decide to opt out of the subsidy during the enrollment period of each semester. They will be required to submit a waiver duly notarized by the institution.

The decision is considered final and irrevocable for that particular semester. Students are allowed to change their decision in the next semesters. 

5. Student voluntary contribution mechanism. The law also allows financially-able students to avail of the free higher education provision but also contribute a specific amount to the higher education institution (HEI). SUCs, LUCs, and TVET providers are required to create a proper system so students can make voluntary contributions for their education.

6. Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES). Students and learners may apply to get subsidies to help pay for tuition and fees in private institutions. 

Under TES, they may also apply for subsidies to get allowances for books, supplies, transportation, room and board costs, and other expenses. A student with disability will also be given a separate set of allowance. Students whose programs require a professional license or certification will also be given money to fund their application for the first time. 

Students and learners, however, must first qualify under the existing admission and retention requirements or other screening and assessment procedures required by the program.

7. Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education. The free tuition law IRR also allows enrolled students to avail of an education loan. The UniFAST Board shall implement the loan program through partner banks or similar institutions.

8. Are there students disqualified from the free tuition law’s benefits? 

Yes. You cannot avail of the free tuition and fees in SUCs and LUCs if:

You also cannot avail of the free higher education provision in TVET programs if:

Students and learners who are not eligible to avail of the benefits of the free tuition law shall pay for the necessary fees as determined by the SUCs, LUCs, and TVET program providers. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.