Senator Bam Aquino called out the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for its failure to fully implement the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides for free tuition and other miscellaneous expenses in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Sen. Bam, principal sponsor and co-author of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, reminded CHED that the law became effective last August 18, 2017, and should already cover the 2nd semester of school year 2017-2018 as manifested both during the bicameral conference and the ratification of the bill in the Senate.

 In addition, CHED also committed to this to Sen. Aquino’s office during the budget deliberations. The Congress and Senate allotted P40 billion in the 2018 national budget for its implementation.

 “Mahalagang maipatupad na ang free college law sa public universities and colleges, lalo pa’t nararamdaman na ng taumbayan ang epekto ng TRAIN sa presyo ng mga bilihin,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that was recently enacted into law by the Duterte government.

 “Tumataas na nga ang presyo ng bilihin, pinagbabayad pa rin ng mga eskuwelahan ang ating mahihirap na pamilya samantalang libre na dapat ang tuition, pati miscellaneous fees,” said Sen. Bam, who voted against the ratification of TRAIN.

The law provides free education to students in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs) and TESDA-run vocational schools.

 Aside from tuition fees, the government will shoulder miscellaneous and all other mandatory fees.

Scholarship grants will be made available to students of both public and private college and universities. It also provides a new and improved student loan program, where students can apply for financing for other education expenses.

 In addition, students taking post-graduate studies can avail of the new and improved student loan program and scholarships under the law.

The measure was languishing in the legislative mill for years before it was passed during Sen. Bam’s time as chairman of the Committee on Education in the 17th Congress. This was Sen. Bam’s 19th law in his four years as senator.

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