April 14, 2024

The House of Representatives approved on third reading a bill that sought to establish a voucher system for financially challenged and academically qualified students of private higher educational institutions and private technical-vocational institution.

House Bill (HB) 7922 authored by Rep. Mark Go also sought to amend pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

He said the said measure will further expand the coverage of the tertiary education subsidy (TES) as provided in RA 10931 and will create a proportional budget allocation in the form of a voucher system for poor and academically qualified students who opt to study in private higher education institutions and private technical-vocational institutions in cities and municipalities where there are existing state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and public technical-vocational institutions.

The bill has existing counterpart measures in the Senate filed by several senators and is now pending on second reading in the Upper Chamber.

The bill added a system where academically qualified students from poor families in the different parts of the country can use the vouchers to transfer from public schools to private education institutions to pursue their desired degree of education.

Further, the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (Unifast) will also determine the eligibility of students under the voucher system, provided that, students of private higher education institutions and technical-vocational institutions who are TES grantees can no longer qualify for the voucher system.

Go said with the legislation, government will be able to help poor but deserving students to continue and finish their tertiary education and become productive citizens of the country in the future.

The bill directed Unifast to administer the TES and to prioritize students who are part of households included in the updated Listahanan 3 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development ranked according to the estimated per capita household income and students not part of the Listahanan 3 ranked according to estimated per capital household income based on the proof of income.

Under the TES, beneficiaries are granted allowances for book supplies, transportation, and a reasonable allowance for the documented rental or purchase of computers, and other education-related expenses, as well as allowance for room and board cost to be incurred by the student. – PIO release