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CHED: P1.2-B scholarship funds to be released soon

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) clarified yesterday that the P1.2 billion unspent scholarship fund discovered by the Commission on Audit (COA) has been obligated and will soon be released to student beneficiaries.

In a statement, CHED chair Patricia Licuanan said they have fully obligated the funds by the end of last year and assured the beneficiaries that they will be paid.

Explaining the failure of the agency to immediately use the budget when it was allocated to them in 2014, Licuanan said the sudden increase in CHED’s scholarship slots that year challenged their capacity to handle the applications.

She noted that the budget allocation for scholarship funds drastically increased in 2014 after the Supreme Court declared the priority development assistance fund, or pork barrel, unconstitutional.

“As a consequence, CHED’s Student Financial Assistance Programs composed of scholarships, grants-in-aid and loans totaling 58,155 slots in the amount of P997 million in academic year 2013-2014, ballooned nearly seven times to 391,817 slots in academic year 2014-2015 amounting to P4.87 billion, testing the carrying capacity of the agency,” she said.

She said the funds have a two-year validity, allowing CHED to obligate it in 2015.

Responding to calls for an investigation in Congress, the CHED chief said they welcome any possible inquiry as an opportunity to set the record straight.

Licuanan said the passage of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) law last year would harmonize and unify all scholarship programs of the government.

“This is expected to further promote equity as well as rationalize access to quality higher and technical education for students in need,” said the CHED chief.

“The implementation of UniFAST is also expected to improve the delivery of student financial assistance,” she added.

Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, chair of the House committee on higher and technical education, told reporters in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan last Friday that

CHED does not have enough manpower to implement the student financial assistance program.

Romulo said CHED’s national and regional offices have limited personnel, the primary reason why there were deficiencies in the program implementation. – With Eva Visperas         

 

ACIRC

CHED

HIGHER EDUCATION

LICUANAN

NBSP

PASIG REP

PATRICIA LICUANAN

ROMAN ROMULO

STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

SUPREME COURT

TERTIARY EDUCATION

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