UniFAST grantees seek Senate probe vs delayed assistance

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2022 11:28 PM

Commission on Higher Education. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Commission on Higher Education. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros has sought an investigation into the United Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) program after getting complaints from beneficiaries over alleged delays. 

UniFAST, under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), was formed to extend assistance to tertiary students through scholarship, grants-in-aid, student loans and other programs.

UniFAST was meant to implement Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

According to Hontiveros’ office, majority of the more or less 300 requests for assistance that they have received related to the UniFAST issue are cases of grantees waiting for the release of their educational assistance for years.

There is one who claimed that they belatedly received a portion of their educational assistance, but was mandated by their child’s school to place a P1,000 school donation.

“Chris,” a UniFAST grantee who asked ABS-CBN News to hide his identity, said he also knows some students who were forced to stop schooling due to the non-release of their educational assistance.

One of them, he said, is a close friend of his.

Chris, although covered by UniFAST for the past four years now, however, have yet to receive even a single centavo out of that program. 

Chris said he was “automatically included” in the UniFAST because his vendor-parents are also covered by 4Ps or the “Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program.”

He was supposed to receive P30,000 educational assistance per semester.

Chris said he entered all kinds of jobs to support his education.

“Siguro po they classified me as a grantee of UniFAST. However, wala po akong natatanggap po… Upon numerous follow-up pare-pareho po ang sagot sa akin. Wala pa raw po, pending. Hindi na raw po nila hawak ang application, nasa national na daw po. So hanggang ngayon po wala pa akong natatanggap na unifast assistance,” Chris said.

The graduating student said he was among those who sought help from Hontiveros’ office, knowing that many more indigent students have failed to pursue a college degree due to the delayed release of UniFAST assistance.

He also fears that there are others who receive the aid under his name.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee has already lined up the UniFAST controversy on the list of issues that it is going to investigate.

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