Rich college students urged: Forgo free tuition
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Sen. Francis Escudero yesterday urged well-off students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) to avail themselves of the “opt out” provision in the recently enacted landmark free college education law.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on education, said Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act has a provision that allows a student enrolled in a SUC or LUC not to avail himself of free tuition and other fees mandated in the law.

He  said  the  issue  of  rich students, who currently pay fees under various schemes in the SUC or LUC they are enrolled in, was raised during congressional deliberations and by student groups with him after the law was signed.

“Maybe some of our well-off students may want to avail of the ‘opt out’ clause. It’s not good for one’s values or to be seen driving expensive cars knowing that you’re studying for free even if you can very well afford to pay,” Escudero told radio station dzBB.

He said SUCs and LUCs, like the University of the Philippines, may be allowed to come up with their own rules but it would be better if payment of fees by well-off students be done voluntarily.

Some leaders of student groups, the senator added, told him they intend to conduct a shame campaign on those who avail themselves of free college education even if they can very well afford to pay.

Escudero told them he found the plan inappropriate.

He also clarified that only LUCs accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are covered by the law.

Of the 112 SUCs and 109 LUCs all over the country, only 40 are CHED-accredited.

He also said SUCs and LUCs can only absorb a limited number of students even if more are expected to enroll next school year.

Escudero said students in private colleges and universities can still avail themselves of government aid under the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Law.

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