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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Proposed unified student financial assistance system approved on 3rd reading
Writer: Lorelei V. Castillo, Media Relations Service-PRIB
20 June 2014 08:41:09 AM

The House of Representatives has approved on 3rd and final reading a measure that will provide a comprehensive and unified student financial assistance system for higher and technical education.

House Bill 4591 seeks to harmonize, reform, strengthen, expand, rationalize and re-focus all ongoing student financial assistance programs of the government for greater efficiency, coherence, synchronization, effective funding and improved coordination among implementing agencies in their specific jurisdiction provided that there shall be status quo implementation of effective student financial assistance programs.

The measure shall allocate and utilize properly all government resources intended for students through effective clientele targeting.

It also aims to address problems related to access, equity and distribution of student financial assistance slots, targeting of beneficiaries, allocation and utilization of government resources, tracking of the whereabouts of beneficiaries, payment recovery rate (student loans) and compliance system (scholarships), and management, program administration and oversight concerns.

Rep. Roman Romulo (Lone District, Pasig City), Chairman of the Committee on Higher and Technical Education and one of the authors of the bill, said the measure aims to produce a pool of highly qualified graduates and technical experts who will contribute to the country's high-level manpower through merit and talent-based scholarships and assist students with liquidity issues through the provision of student loans.

Romulo said the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education (UniFAST) Act shall have the integral components of all existing financial assistance programs for higher and technical education students in both public and private institutions, including scholarships, grants-in-aid, special purpose or sector educational assistance, student loans, and government programs in partnership with other stakeholders, among others, and which are nationally funded or implemented by national government agencies, branches and instrumentalities.

To carry out the measure effectively, a UniFAST Board shall be created and directed to formulate and approve the national government student financial assistance policies and strategies for tertiary education and review existing policies to ensure consistency with its policy framework under the Act.

The measure shall create a Congressional Oversight Committee composed of five members each from the Committees on Higher and Technical Education of the Senate of the Philippines and of the House of Representatives, which shall have the power to oversee the implementation of the Act.

Under the measure, student loan refers to a modality of student financial assistance, short term or long term loans, which shall be extended to students facing liquidity problems, regardless of economic status, and which shall be paid by the student or the student's parents, guardians, or co-makers.

Grant-in-Aid (GIA) refers to a modality of free financial assistance to poor but eligible students, which generally requires a minimum level of competence to complete tertiary education.

Other authors of the bill are Reps. Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Party-list, AMIN), Mariano Piamonte and Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A-TEACHER), Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Party-list, CIBAC), Eric Olivarez (1st District, Parañaque City), Eulogio “Amang” Magsaysay (Party-list, AVE), Christopher Co (Party List, Ako Bicol), Arthur Yap (3rd District, Bohol), Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), Erlinda Santiago (Party-list, I-SAGIP), Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO), Marcelino Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City), Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), Harlin Abayon (1st District, Northern Samar), Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (Lone District, Aurora), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), Joseph Gilbert Violago (2nd District, Nueva Ecija), Romero Federico Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City), Aileen Radaza (Lone District, Lapu-Lapu City), Alfredo Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City), Evelio Leonardia (Lone District, Bacolod City), Neil Benedict Montejo (Party-list, AN WARAY), Catalina Leonen-Pizarro (Party-list, ABS), Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Mark Villar (Lone District, Las Piñas City), Czarina Umali (3rd District, Nueva Ecija), Rogelio Neil Roque (4th District, Bukidnon), Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna), Douglas Hagedorn (3rd District, Palawan), Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan), Ma Theresa Bonoan (4th District, Manila), Patricio Antonio (Party-list, AGBIAG), Sherwin Gatchalian ( 1st District, Valenzuela City), Rodel Batocabe (Party List, Ako Bicol), Francisco Lino Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City), Evelina Escudero ( 1st District, Sorsogon), Neri Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna), Regina Ongsiako Reyes (Lone District, Marinduque), Josephine Sato (Lone District, Occidental Mindoro), Leah Paquiz (Party-list, ANG NARS), Pangalian Balindong (2nd District, Lanao del Sur), Wilfredo Caminero (2nd District, Cebu), Victor Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur), Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City), Nicasio Aliping, Jr. (Lone District, Baguio City), Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Rogelio Espina (Lone District, Biliran), Ansaruddin Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur), Jose Christopher "Kit" Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Thelma Almario (2nd District, Davao Oriental), Jesulito Manalo (Party-list, ANGKLA), Monique Yazmin Lagdameo (1st District, Makati City), Carlos Padilla (Lone District, Nueva Vizcaya), Jonathan Dela Cruz (Party-list, ABAKADA), Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon), Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Mercedes Alvarez (6th District, Negros Occidental), Felix William Fuentebella (4th District, Camarines Sur), Magnolia Rosa Antonino-Nadres (4th District, Nueva Ecija), Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Elisa "Olga" Kho (2nd District, Masbate) and Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar).