According to student groups, changes in the application process of the University of the Philippines (UP) Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) will hike tuition rates by about 50-65%, or from P1000 to P1500 per unit for Diliman, Manila, and LB campuses, and from P600 to P1000 for Baguio, Pampanga, Visayas, and Mindanao campuses.
Millionares’ bracket as default
A new memorandum released by the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) requires students to submit certification and other documents indicating his or her family’s income. Failing to do so would assign a student to Bracket A or a “millionaires” bracket which tuition rates are at P1,500 per unit or P1000 per unit for other campuses.
Previously, a student who does not apply for STFAP is assigned to Bracket B or P1,000 per unit tuition or P600 per unit for the other campuses.
The UP administration has initially attempted to implemented the scheme last year but was withdrawn due to protests. But the damage has been done as reports from the Philippine Collegian indicated that more than half of the freshmen enrolled were classified under Bracket A.
Tuition increase in disguise
The STFAP is a “socialized” tuition rate scheme which the UP administration claims ensures that those with lower income benefit from state subsidy.
However, after over two decades of implementation of the STFAP, the number of UP Diliman students benefiting from free tuition dropped by almost 90 percent, according to data from the Collegian.
In 1991, one in every five undergraduate students in Diliman benefited from free tuition under the program. By 2010, only one in every one hundred students is granted free tuition.
Various student groups have assailed UP’s STFAP as a “smokescreen” for tuition hikes.
“This is tuition increase disguised (as a scholarship program),” said Marjohara Tucay, former editor in chief of the Collegian.
In 2006, UP increased its tuition rates by 300% from P300 per unit to P1000 per unit.
According to reports, more than one third of UPCAT passers or around 1,300 of the 3,826 UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) qualifiers in UP Diliman (UPD) did not enrol last academic year, mainly due to high tuition rates.
The new tuition scheme is clearly an income-generating scheme being done by the UP administration as a result of budget cuts implemented by the government of President Benigno Aquino III during the past years.
Education a privilege under Aquino
The direction under Aquino’s education program for higher education is for state universities to commercialize and abandon its nature as a public university, thus abandoning its responsibility mandated by the constitution to provide free and accessibe education for all.
Taking UP’s cue, other state universities across the country have also expressed plans to increase tuition rates. Miscellaneous fees in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) are set to increase by as much as P500. State universities in the Cordilleras are also set to increase tuition by 300%.
The government plan to further decrease public spending on education and hike tuition rates is grossly insensitive and condemnable. As it is, 8 out of 10 students drop out due to high tuition rates, according to CHED. Many parents won’t be able to send their children to school this year due to the government’s noynoying on tuition increases.
Various youth and teachers’ groups are calling for protests on June 4, first day of classes, to condemn Aquino’s education budget cuts and tuition increases.