MANILA - Education is a right, but with its increasing cost, more and more Filipinos are left with no choice but to discontinue their studies.

The cost of education, especially college education, has more than doubled in the past five years. From between P30,000 and P50,000 in 2010, tuition rates have gone up to P60,000 to around P100,000 in 2015.

Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that 19.2 percent of 40 million out-of-school children and youth stopped attending school due to insufficient family income.

To address this issue, President Benigno Aquino III, in 2015, signed Republic Act 10687, or the UniFAST Law, which provides for a comprehensive and unified student financial assistance system for tertiary education.

Under the law, government-funded programs for scholarships, grants and loans are unified for improved efficiency.

Students who are seeking financial aid can either avail of scholarship programs from the government, or apply for a student loan.

Scholarship programs are given to students from marginalized sectors of society who want to continue their studies. Recipients are required to pass a rigorous selection process.

Student loans, on the other hand, are available for students who have already enrolled in college but are in need of additional funds. Those who will avail of loans must be able to repay the loan upon graduation.

Special purpose funds are also available for students with niche projects for research and innovation.

To avail of financial assistance, students must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They are also required to have good moral character.

Upon submission of other requirements, the applicant must pass a qualifying examination, and must maintain a certain grade point average in school.

The government will chose the recipient of grants and aid, depending on the applicant's family income.

Atty. Julito Vitriolo, executive director of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), said the UniFAST Law makes education more accessible to more people, giving them a better chance at future employment.

"It's really an access instrument, an empowerment instrument, and it is really a tool for nation-building and economic growth because we need highly qualified human resource not only to man our industries, our enterprises, both small scale and large scale, in the country, but it's a worldwide phenomenon now. The mobility of human resource experts, it's happening. In fact, the market of our human resource is not just the Philippines but it's worldwide," he said.