Baguio-Benguet students hit initial go at Free Tuition Policy

By CHRISTIAN PATRICIO
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — “Akala ko, libre na talaga. Hindi pa pala,” Louise Montenegro, a BA Communication Student of University of the Philippines-Baguio, said in an interview regarding the free tuition policy. This is almost the same reaction of other students from Baguio-Benguet state universities and colleges like Benguet State University when asked about the implementation of the free tuition policy.

Last January of this year, senators and other policy makers succeeded at allocating a staggering 8.3 Billion pesos to the budget of Commission on Higher Education this 2017. It is said that this huge amount will give way to funding all the students of all SUCs in the country. Because of this pronouncements, students were hopeful to finally go to school for free, without any fees to pay.

However, students were shocked and disheartened on the day of the application for the free tuition policy, especially here in Baguio and Benguet.

Last June 26, the registration for free tuition policy started in BSU. Emil, a BS Agriculture student in BSU, went for the registration of FTP, bringing only a certificate of indigency. This was the only document that the BSU administration required the students to bring on the day of registration. However, on the same day, some faced problems as the administration pointed out a “wrong” format which unless corrected immediately, it woud prevent them from finishing their registration for school.

“Kinuha lang ng admin yung form and indigency ko, pero binigyan pa ako ng paper na kailangan kong asikasuhin para maaprubahan yung tuition fee na yun. Pero yun nga, pinapakuha pa ulit ako ng certificate of indigency. Iba kasi yung gusto nilang format, e hindi naman lahat ng barangay pare-pareho ng format. Kailangan ko ulit magpakuha tuloy ng bago. Bagong gastos na naman,” said Karla Naogsan, Engineering student of BSU.

Karla, Emil and other students from BSU were only given a day to complete the requirements to avail of the FTP or else miss the opportunity for free tuition. As many students from BSU come from other provinces and districts outside Benguet, many were quite disappointed they had to pay tuition fee on their enrolment that started on July 5 until July 7.

Meanwhile in UP Baguio, students were also disappointed especially that there is no assurance they can avail of the FTP the next semester. Louise Montenegro of UP Baguio who said,

“Akala ko talaga, magiging libre na yung tuition fee, given na nasa UP kami. Pero hindi pa pala talaga. Masaya na nga kami (ng kaniyang pamilya) na ibinalita yung tungkol sa free tuition, pero mukhang kailangan na naman naming magbudget para magkaroon ulit ako ng pambayad sa enrollment.”

The application of FTP in UP Baguio is an online-based process. The students were instructed to go to a website provided by the Student Financial Assistance of the UP System, and were asked to fill an online form to avail of the FTP. However, not all students have assurance because the UP system has also provided a list of priorities of who can avail.

If a student will not be able to avail FTP, they can try availing of the socialized tuition system (STS) which provides a certain discount on the tuition fee depending on the bracket given to you by the system. The application for the FTP in UP is bundled with the application of STS. The students were also forced to submit a document provided by the parent to state the income of the household where the student is included.

The application for FTP in UP Baguio started on June 30 and will end on July 7.

“Maganda yung layunin ng pagkakaroon ng free tuition policy. Pero hindi pa rin ito sinasagot ang pangangailangan ng mga estudyante. Nililimitahan lamang nito ang ating access sa libreng edukasyon at pinipilit yung mga estudyante na patunayan na sila ay mahirap at deserving,” said Nedlloyd Tuguinay, chairperson of the UP Baguio University Student Council.

He added, “Kailangan pa ng malakas na pagkilos mula sa mga estudyante ng SUCs para makamit talaga natin ang edukasyon na tunay na libre at dekalidad.”

With this, students from BSU and UP Baguio look at the FTP application process as a preventive measure to discourage deserving students to rightfully avail of this tax funded government service. # nordis.net

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