Signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 03 August 2017, Republic Act (RA) No. 10931, otherwise known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is “an act promoting universal access to quality tertiary education by providing free tuition and other school fees in State Universities and Colleges, Local Universities and Colleges, and State-Run Technical-Vocational Institutions, establishing the Tertiary Education Subsidy and Student Loan Program, strengthening the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education, and appropriating fund therefore,” as stated in the title of the Law.
Free Tuition 2017 is a special program of the government that was inserted in the budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that made tuition fees free in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for Academic Year (AY) 2017-2018. Miscellaneous and other school fees are not covered in Free Tuition 2017.
Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” is a law that expanded and enhanced the coverage of Free Tuition 2017. It is composed of four (4) equally important programs:
The law was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 03 August 2017 and became effective 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette. Most of the provisions of the law have been implemented starting AY 2018-2019. The UniFAST Governing Board approved the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10931 on February 22, 2018, launched the IRR on March 26, 2018. The IRR was published in the August 3, 2018 issue of Manila Bulletin.
CHED OIC J. Prospero E. De Vera III reported to President Rodrigo R. Duterte during the Malacanang Signing Ceremony of the 112 SUCs and 78 CHED-recognized LUCs on June 13, 2018 as well as to the Congressional Committee on Higher and Technical Education on July 30, 2018, that close to 900,000 SUC students did not pay tuition anymore for AY 2017-2018.
Congress allocated PhP40 billion for the first year of implementation of the law in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to be implemented in AY 2018-2019. UniFAST and CHED will continue to advocate in both Houses of Congress to ensure that sufficient funds and budget will continue to be appropriated for RA 10931 programs in succeeding years.
In fact, aside from the regular PhP 40 Billion allocation for RA 10931 in the 2019 GAA, a Tier 2 budget of PhP 11 Billion has been added by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the Tertiary Education Subsidy in AY 2019-2020.
For AY 2018-2019, the government allocated the amount of PhP 40 billion for the first year of implementation of RA 10931. Budget of the four programs under the law are for:
|Free Higher Education||PhP 16 billion|
|Free Technical-Vocational Education and Training||PhP 7 billion|
|Tertiary Education Subsidy||PhP 16 billion|
|Student Loan Program||PhP 1 billion|
|Total||PhP 40 billion|
The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Educatio or UniFAST is the government agency in charge of implementing the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10931)
The UniFAST was created in 2015 by virtue of RA 10687 as a system to unify existing government student financial assistance programs for Tertiary Education in the Philippines
The UniFAST will ensure that deserving Filipinos are given equitable access to educational opportunities.