No adjustment in tuition rates, however
MANILA (UPDATED) - The University of the Philippines finally replaced its archaic Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) with a new system that is described as more responsive to the needs of students.
UP President Alfredo E. Pascual said the STFAP has been replaced with the so-called Socialized Tuition System (STS), which seeks to speed up the processing of tuition bracket applications, adjust income brackets, and increase the monthly allowance of poor students.
Pascual, who spearheaded the reforms when he assumed office, said: “The STFAP was established in 1989 as part of UP’s effort to democratize access to its academic programs while promoting fairness and social justice in the university.”
In total, the STS will cost UP some P300 million in reduced tuition income and additional stipend payments.
Changes will apply to incoming freshmen for 2014-2015.
Calls to scrap or revise the STFAP grew louder after a 16-year-old freshman in UP Manila, Kristel Tejada, allegedly took her life after failing to pay her tuition.
UP later described Tejada’s death as an “isolated, unfortunate case.”
Pascual explained that the STS adjusted the income cut-offs for brackets A, B, C, and D. For Tuition Bracket A, the income cut-off will be P1,300,001 and above (former STFAP was at P1 million and above); P650,001 to P1.3 million for bracket B (STFAP: P500,001 to P1 million); P325,001 to P650,000 for bracket C (STFAP at P250,001 to P500,000); and P135,001 to P325,000 for bracket D (STFAP was at 135,001 to P250,000).
The increase in the upper brackets, a change of 30%, is based on inflation. “The rate reflects the extent of inflation between 2006, when the [STFAP] cutoffs were established, and the end of 2012,” Pascual said.
Cut-offs in brackets D, E1, and E2 will remain the same. Bracket D is at P135,001 to P325,000. Bracket E1 is at P80,001 to P135,000; while bracket E2 is at P80,000 and less.
The monthly allowance of bracket E2, meanwhile, will be adjusted to P3,500 a year for ten months a year. The previous was at P2,400.
“The allowance may be in the form of cash, meals, dormitory accommodation, and other benefits and services provided by UP,” Pascual said.
UP also promises to simplify the processing of the STS.
To make bracket assignment easier, the STS will only use two, instead of four, indicators: the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines (MORES) instrument and the student’s declared income.
In applying for the STFAP, a student usually fills up a 14-page long application form. With STS, the form is only two pages.
The appeals process will also be faster since there will already be a decentralization of the decision to the campus involved. Before, applicants had to wait for the decision of a UP system-level committee that meets only thrice a year.
Amid the adjustments, UP said the tuition rate remains unchanged. Nonetheless, even those in bracket A are subsidized, Pascual said.
“Based on UP’s annual budget, government subsidy for UP for salaries and operating expenses stands at about P120,000 per student,” he said. Bracket A students only pay P50,000 annually.