Jocelyn Martin's tears easily fall every time she remembers her struggles just to fulfill her dream of finishing her studies.
With her parents unable to help her—her father suffered a stroke, and her mother jobless—she has to resort to selling snacks to her schoolmates, work in an establishment and find other odd jobs.
“Nagtitinda po ako ng graham balls para lang po may pang… ano ba yan. Sorry (cries) para lang may pang tuition ako, tapos baon ko po. Tapos kinakapalan ko po mukha ko na every classroom magtitinda ako," she said.
“Minsan po pag mahina ang bentahan ng graham balls, gumagawa po ako ng mga project nila tapos binabayaran po nila ako. Tapos nagtu-tutor din po ako. Sobrang hirap po.”
She is currently a 4th year student at St. Clare College in Caloocan. And despite the scholarship she received from the school which reduced her tuition from P40,000 to P17,000, looking for money to finance her tuition and her other educational expenses is a struggle.
Her schoolmate Ivan Pinto suffers the same fate.
His parents are also jobless and he relies on his brother for a weekly P500 to P1,000 allowance.
With these meager resources, he manages to hide his pain behind his smile.
“Sa amin po sa Caloocan, ito ay puro resettlement area, dun po kami nakatira. So parang isang kahig isang tuka, na kailangan po naming mag aral ng mabuti," he said.
“Paano kami makakabayad ng tuition fee? Paano kami makapag sustain, paano makapagtapos. Yung everyday burden namin”.
But things are hopefully turning out for the better for students like Jocelyn and Ivan after the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) begins channeling funds for the P16 billion Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES).
TES is one of the core programs of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act that provides financial assistance to poor but qualified students studying in both private and public universities and colleges for academic year 2018-2019.
CHEd on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement with 1,000 private higher education institutions to transfer funds for their TES student beneficiaries.
CHEd distributed checks to 190 state universities and colleges, and CHEd recognized Local Universities and Colleges to fund their student beneficiaries.
CHEd chairman Prospero de Vera said these are “historic” events for the commission.
“Today we are giving the checks to 190 public universities who also applied their students for Tertiary Education Subsidy," he said.
Student beneficiaries from SUCs and LUCs are expected to get their subsidies before Christmas since they already have a “system in place” amounting to P40,000 per student.
Meanwhile those from private universities and colleges will be able to get theirs in a “month or two” since a system of distribution will still have to be put in place. This would amount to P60,000 per student to finance their tuition and other educational expenses.