UP Freshmen Contend with High Tuition, Other Fees

Despite opposition from a segment of students and other members of the University of the Philippines (UP) community, the approved 300 percent tuition and other fee increase (TFI) pushed through with its first implementation on incoming freshmen this year. According to the Office of the University Registrar (OUR), some 2,737 freshmen are covered by the said increase as of June 4.

By Alaysa Tagumpay Escandor and Victor Gregor Limon
Philippine Collegian
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. 7, No. 22, July 8-14, 2007

Despite opposition from a segment of students and other members of the University of the Philippines (UP) community, the approved 300 percent tuition and other fee increase (TFI) pushed through with its first implementation on incoming freshmen this year. According to the Office of the University Registrar (OUR), some 2,737 freshmen are covered by the said increase as of June 4.

Likewise, a new Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) was implemented. The STFAP determines the tuition and the stipend, if any, that the students are entitled to based on their family’s income. As of press time, 1,004 freshmen have applied for STFAP to avail of tuition discounts, data from the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) show.

Freshmen who did not apply will automatically pay the base tuition of P1,000 to P1,500 ($21.70 to $32.55, based on an exchange rate of P46.08 per US dollar) per unit, depending on the annual family income and asset quantities they reported on their UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) application.

Under the new STFAP, students will be grouped into five socio-economic brackets. The new tuition rates will affect those students qualified under Brackets A, B, and C.

Those under Bracket D will pay the old rate of P300 ($6.51) per unit for Group I campuses and P200 ($4.34) per unit for Group II. Bracket E qualifiers will be provided 100 percent tuition subsidy plus a standard stipend. (See Table 1)


In an earlier statement, UP President Emerlinda Roman said that the students’ bracket assignment is computed based on their families’ “ability to pay.”

Roman said that the main objective of the new bracketing scheme “is to provide a safety net for the most economically underprivileged of students” who cannot afford the increase in tuition.

Furthermore, Roman stressed the “important features” of the new STFAP which supposedly improved the old one. This includes “wider stipend coverage and higher stipend rates for qualified students.”

Under the new STFAP, brackets are determined by analyzing, among others, household appliances, family income and occupation of the students’ relatives.

The real score

However, STFAP bracketing results in UP Diliman (UPD) alone show that most freshmen applicants will be shouldering the tuition increase, and only a few will receive full tuition subsidy and stipends. As of June 4, a total of 1,004 freshmen have applied for STFAP, and the OSSS has assigned brackets to only 667.

In the bracketing results, a total of 596 freshmen applicants (or around 89 percent) were classified under Brackets A, B, and C. Moreover, only 61 students (10.5 percent) will be paying the old tuition rates and 10 students (1.5 percent) will be granted full tuition subsidy. (See Table 2)

Upperclassmen, on the other hand, can still apply for tuition subsidies under the old STFAP. Under this system, there are nine brackets available, with brackets 1 to 5 receiving full tuition subsidy. As of May 21, 297 upperclassmen have been assigned brackets, 38 percent of which will be exempt from tuition fees and will receive corresponding stipends. (See Table 3)

Applications for both new and old STFAP are open even after the registration period. Once the students’ brackets are announced after enrolment, those entitled to subsidies and stipends will be refunded.

In 2004, 38 percent of the total student population applied for the STFAP. According to the committee headed by Prof. Edgardo Atanacio which proposed to rebracket the STFAP, the implementation of the TFI may provide an incentive for more freshmen to apply for tuition subsidy.

Unresolved debate

With hundreds of freshmen applying under the new STFAP, former Faculty Regent Roland Simbulan described the bracketing scheme as a “guise” for collecting “more money in the form of tuition.” According to him, the collapse of the nine brackets into five will cause anomalous bracketing: students from “poorer families” being assigned to higher brackets.

For instance, students who might have been classified under Brackets 2 to 4 in the old STFAP, and are exempted from paying tuition, will now fall under Bracket D.

Meanwhile, around 400 parents of freshmen joined the Students and Parents for Accessible and Relevant Education in UP (SPARE UP), a system-wide alliance of parents and students campaigning against the TFI and the new STFAP.

Student Regent Terry Ridon said SPARE UP is discussing the possibility of creating a scholarship fund for needy freshmen who cannot afford the tuition rates assigned to them by STFAP, while ultimately pushing for the junking of both TFI and the new STFAP.

Prohibitive costs

Even as the debate on the new STFAP continues, the high tuition rates have already prevented some UPCAT qualifiers from enrolling in UPD.

Ilizel Retita, an UPCAT qualifier from Iligan, for example, did not enroll in UP because her family cannot afford the tuition rates.

In an interview, Retita said that while she applied for the STFAP, “I didn’t check the results since even if I can avail (of) the scholarship, the expenses will still be way too much.” She was classified under Bracket C.

When asked what she thought about the TFI, she replied: “It’s such a surprise… (UP) is supposed to be for intelligent people in the lower classes…It’s a shame how they increased the tuition (such) that intelligent students in the lower classes can’t afford (it) anymore.”

Ilizel passed the cut-off score for the College of Science in UPD. However, she now studies at Mindanao State University-Institute of Industrial Technology, taking up BS Electronics and Communications Engineering.

Despite this, studying “in a school as prestigious as UP” remains one of her dreams. “I really want to study (in UP) if I will only be given a chance.”

Low enrolment

Meanwhile, enrolment in some UP campuses registered low turnouts. The only campuses which recorded a freshmen enrolment rate of more than 50 percent were Diliman and Manila, each with 69.13 and 54.88 percent of UPCAT enrollees, respectively.

Los Baños and Mindanao campuses registered the lowest turnouts, with 16.67 and 16.76 percent, respectively.

Moreover, data from the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) shows that 1,331 UPD freshmen have either deferred or failed to confirm for enrolment as of June 6. This translates to about 34.7 percent of the total 3,825 UPCAT UPD qualifiers.

To explain the low turn-out, University Registrar Pamela Constantino said that students may have opted to study in other colleges that offered them scholarships, are closer to their respective provinces or have more affordable tuition.

Several degree programs in Diliman also registered a zero turnout, failing to attract any enrollees during the confirmation period for original qualifiers of UPCAT. These are Bachelor of Arts (BA) Filipino, BA Araling Pilipino, and BA Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino.

In an interview, Prof. Vina Paz, chairperson of the Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, described such trend as “normal” because the Filipino language is not popular to begin with.

She maintained, however, that such a trend does not necessarily mean that the department faces the danger of being closed due to low enrolment turn-out, since there remains a need to promote Filipino as the country’s national language. Philippine Collegian/Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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