The Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act, or UniFAST — also known as Republic Act No. 10687 — was signed into law in October 15, 2015. UniFAST reconciles, improves, strengthens, expands, and puts under one body all government-funded modalities of Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) for tertiary education – and special purpose education assistance – in both public and private institutions. These modalities include scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans and other specialized forms of StuFAPs formulated by the UniFAST Board.
The UniFAST law – and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) – are intended to make the implementation of StuFAPs in the tertiary level more effective, efficient, and politically-neutral or free of political labeling.
“Tertiary Education” follows secondary education or high school. It includes post-secondary non-degree diploma, Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education programs like baccalaureate degrees (college) and graduate education (master’s, Ph.D., etc.).
Special Purpose Education Assistance
“Special Purpose Education Assistance” refers to research and scientific studies in the college and masteral/doctoral level funded by StuFAPs. It includes funding assistance for the following: Writing and publication of books, manuscripts, theses, dissertations, scientific and technical journals Production, filming and documentation (through digital technology) of research and studies Development of instructional and academic materials, and science models
The UniFAST Board
The UniFAST Board consists of the Chair of CHED as UniFAST Chair; the Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as Co-Chairs; the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the National Youth Commission (NYC) as members. The chair, co-chairs and members are with the UniFAST Board by virtue of their permanent positions in their respective offices/ departments.
The various StuFAP operationalizations which UniFAST coordinates are implemented by CHED, TESDA and the following departments: DOST, DOLE, Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); both Houses of Congress, and other government instrumentalities such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), among others. The government financial institutions (GFIs) implementing the StuFAPs include Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and the Social Security System (SSS).