Senator seeks long-term loan for college students

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senator seeks long-term loan for college students
Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — As Filipinos continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid is seeking to give long-term personal loans to college students to help them in their living expenses, including board and lodging, transportation as well as internet and digital connectivity costs.

In filing Senate Bill 274, Lapid seeks to establish the College Living Expenses Financing (CLEF) program to support the undergraduate studies of Filipino students of good academic standing.  The amortizations shall start one year from the date of graduation or the end of the last semester of enrollment.

“Even though the tuition is free for our students, I know that there are still many who have difficulty going to college because they do not have the finances to cover their living expense while studying,” Lapid said.

“This problem is felt even more by students who come from distant places and have to travel and move to study. They need to be given the opportunity to have a source of funds for their accommodation, books and other expenses while they study,” he added.

Lapid said the bill, once signed into law, would mandate the national government to set up a loan guarantee fund on student loans to be provided by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

He noted that while RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act significantly contributes to making quality education accessible to all by providing free tuition and exemptions on fees for students of state colleges and universities, other factors hinder the attainment of this desired goal.

One such obstacle is the cost-of-living expenses and other education-related expenses which discourage qualified students from families below the poverty line to consider pursuing higher education.

The CLEF program is a long-term personal loan program designed to provide for the living expenses of Filipino college students, including board and lodging, living allowance, transportation costs, food expenses, uniforms and personal clothing, books and supplies, internet and digital connectivity and other miscellaneous expenses.

The bill states that the CLEF program will be made available to all Filipino students who are either enrolled at the time of the effectivity of the Act, or admitted to enroll at any time thereafter, in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any higher educational institution accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

Each eligible student shall be entitled to a maximum loan amount of P50,000 per semester and a maximum of P400,000 allowing for up to five years of college enrollment. The loan shall have a maximum term of 25 years and an interest rate lower than the prevailing interest rate subject to the discretion of the disbursing financial institutions.

“It is the right of every Filipino to be given the opportunity for quality education and the right of every student to receive all the help the government can provide. It is a big thing that tuition is free in colleges and universities in the country, but we know that apart from tuition, college students have many other needs to complete their studies. This is where the loan that I would like to enact for our students comes in – a loan that can be given quickly to every student who applies and a loan that doesn’t take a lot of time to pay because the interest on it will be small,” Lapid pointed out.

According to the bill, the administration of the CLEF program will be a shared responsibility of the CHED – which shall process and endorse the loan application requirements of eligible students – and the disbursing financial institutions, which shall release the amounts based on an approved disbursement program agreed with the student.

Cultural education

Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda filed Senate Bill 242 or the Cultural Education Program (CEP) Act of 2022 to integrate Philippine arts and culture into the country’s educational system.

“Our culture is the narrative that binds Filipinos regardless of ethnicity, social class or educational background into a common chronicle of tradition, trials and triumph. It is our identity and, therefore, must be preserved and passed on to the next generation,” Legarda said.

Under the bill, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts will collaborate with the Department of Education, CHED and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in formulating and implementing plans and programs that will integrate and mainstream Philippine arts and culture in the national education system.

Legarda said a CEP will be created to develop and implement an enhanced special program for the arts; mainstream indigenous knowledge systems, skills and practices through the institutionalization of appropriate Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) model in the formal education system; support the K-12 program of DepEd both in the formal and informal systems and introduce culture-based technical and vocational courses.

She said the government has taken concrete steps to address the need to safeguard the country’s intangible cultural heritage through the establishment of SLTs.

“However, our culture has a fundamental role and function as the foundation of our nation. We need to further develop our country’s unique and diverse cultural heritage through this measure,” she added.


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