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CHED asks Budget dept. to exempt free tuition law from 35% budget cut

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The Commission on Higher Education has asked Budget officials to exclude the free tuition law from programs that will lose funding in favor of COVID-19 response efforts. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30) — The Commission on Higher Education has asked Budget officials to exclude the free tuition law from programs that will lose funding in favor of COVID-19 response efforts.

CHED said it has reached out to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), adding that its order to defer 35 percent of programmed funds will prompt state and local universities to collect fees to pay their workers.

“Without this income, they will not be able to operate many programs that they are running or worse we may be forced to allow them to collect tuition so that they will have income,” said CHED Chairperson Popoy De Vera during a Thursday online hearing with the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.

The DBM released Circular 580 on April 22 stating that 35 percent of programmed funds will not be released effective April 1, to pool funds to address the COVID-19 crisis. The order also discontinued unreleased money from the 2019 budget and those identified as “For Later Release” in the 2020 budget.

De Vera said the law’s funds will be reduced further since Congress realigned a portion and classified it for later release.

“So two areas: the realignment of Congress for the deduction in the net which is not going to be released anymore because it is labelled as ‘For Later Release’ and the additional 35 percent that will not be released for the remaining money of RA 10931,” said De Vera, referring to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

He added that the measure will significantly affect reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous fees and the release of the Tertiary Education Subsidy for students.

“We are afraid to inform Congress that we will not be able to do a lot of things for RA 10931,” said De Vera. The law exempts all students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, certificate degree, or any undergraduate degree in the country’s state and local universities and colleges from paying for their education.

The House committee said it will support CHED’s appeal.

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