ERRATUM (January 8, 2021): The data came from the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) and was retrieved through the Office of Scholarships and Grants (OSG).
As several issues plagued students and faculty in the online learning set-up, data from the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) sent through the Office of Scholarships and Grants (OSG) revealed that 1,112 out of 9,521 undergraduate students were not eligible for free tuition on the first semester of A.Y. 2020-2021.
Under Section 6 of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the Republic Act (RA) 10931, students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs), such as UPLB, and CHED-recognized local universities and colleges (LUCs) are qualified for free tuition as long as they pass admission requirements, hold no previous undergraduate degrees, and are not overstaying their college residency.
As not all students are able to finish their courses on time, many were doomed to face the UP system’s controversial handling of the Maximum Residence Rule (MRR), wherein students will no longer be allowed to register in the event that they would not be able to finish in the given time. However, due to the pandemic, Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Cynthia Bautista explained that MRR regulations were waived.
With this, several scholarship and stipend programs were open for students to help cope with financial woes.
OUR reported that among the undergraduate students enrolled this semester, 2,627 are reported to be beneficiaries of these programs. The majority of these students rely on grants-in-aid programs, with 1,892 receiving either tuition fee discounts and/or monthly stipends. Out of the remaining students, 358 availed student loans and claims with case-to-case benefits, 274 pursued student assistantship and received a monthly salary, and 103 claimed private/government scholarships and received a monthly stipend.
Moreover, OUR revealed that 1,843 students were eligible for tuition reductions provided by the Socialized Tuition System (STS), not including the 49 no discount (ND) students. Among these students, 321 received a Partial Discount (PD) of 33% (PD33), 829 received a Partial Discount of 60% (PD66), 519 received a Partial Discount of 80% (PD88), 141 received a Full Discount (FD), and 33 received a Full Discount with Stipend (FDS).
STS supposedly grants additional subsidy based on the socioeconomic status of the student who applies, primarily basing it on their household annual income. Households earning more than P1.3 million yearly are ineligible for the program, while households earning less than that receive varying levels of subsidy, with those earning less than P135,001 receiving free tuition and free miscellaneous fees.
Approved in 2013, the ST System replaced the former Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFP). However, a 2014 report from the Inquirer revealed that the ST System left a sour taste in students’ mouths as while it was meant to be an easier cross to bear (from requiring 14 pages of documents to only two), the system reportedly assigned applicants to the wrong brackets.
For instance, if there is a car visible in a picture or if the applicant has access to Facebook, netizens claimed that they would be assigned to Bracket A (having to pay full tuition) instead of Bracket E (full scholarship). [P]