MANILA (UPDATE) — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Thursday that it would not grant merit scholarships this year due to the budget constraints in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
At a Senate hearing, Chairman Prospero de Vera said the agency's current budget can only cover existing scholars under the CHED Merit Scholarship Program (CMSP)
"We are giving out a notice that we will not be able to give merit scholarship for this school year," he said.
"Ang mapopondohan namin doon sa natitirang pera ay iyong continuing lang kasi kung tatanggap kami ng bago tapos hindi mabibigyan 'yong continuing, mas kawawa sila," he added.
(With the remaining money, we can only fund current scholars. If we accept new applications, we won't be able to support the existing ones.)
In a statement on Friday, De Vera explained that applications for CMSP were suspended "to urgently support and contribute to the government's efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to prioritize need-based scholarships rather than merit-based scholarships."
CMSP has 2,467 slots for incoming college freshmen for Academic Year 2020 to 2021, according to De Vera.
The CMSP provides assistance to students based on their grades. Scholars use the money to pay tuition, miscellaneous fees, and other educational expenses.
De Vera added that budget for the reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges, and local universities and colleges was not affected by National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 580.
The circular ordered government agencies to tighten their belts and put off non-essential spending while the country continued to deal with COVID-19.
The Tertiary Education Subsidy and Student Loan Program were also unaffected by NBC No. 580, De Vera said.