By Mariamme D. Jadloc, image by Leonardo A. Reyes
(November-December 2014)—A new financial assistance program for UP students, the Socialized Tuition System (ST-S) was implemented in the constituent universities in August 2014, coinciding with the first semester of UP’s new academic calendar.
The ST-S provides tuition discounts at rates based on the assessment of the paying capacity of the household to which a student belongs.
“The ST-S is a means to make education affordable. At the same time, it’s a way to address the needs of students who need financial assistance…(since) there is a risk that students from these families will be unable to finish their tertiary education,” said Prof. Richard Philip A. Gonzalo, director of the ST-S Office.
Approved by the UP Board of Regents on Dec. 13, 2013, the ST-S evaluates an applicant’s household income (or financial support through earnings, pension, and or financial assistance from members and non-members); consumption and income patterns through expenditures; and the household’s socio-economic characteristic.
According to Gonzalo, a household socio-economic characteristic may be determined by the “characteristic of the members of the household (ex. Senior citizens with medical needs), household facilities and economic assets.”
A household is a social unit consisting of a person living alone or a group of persons who sleep in the same housing unit with common arrangement in the preparation and consumption of food. This may also include persons who may not be with the group but are blood related and contribute regularly to household finances, Gonzalo said.
“We consider the difference in households because they differ in their capacity to pay; also, their standards of living depend on the area they come from,” Gonzalo said. “Households in urban areas have a different living standard than that of households in rural areas. It also depends on whether they live either in Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao.”
Viewed as a student’s support system, the household is used in considering an applicant’s eligibility for a tuition discount.
The ST-S program is a student privilege but it is not granted automatically. One needs to apply to avail of the program. To qualify, a student must be a Filipino, is a bona fide undergraduate student (except for students of Law and Medicine; and must not have a bachelor’s degree), has never been found guilty of any offense with a penalty of more than 30 days suspension; and is in need of financial assistance.
Application process is online at https://sts.up.edu.ph/. Students must log in using their ST account. Applicants must indicate their intent to apply and consent to the system’s terms and conditions, answer the household characteristic questionnaire and accomplish the household income form.
To determine the tuition discount, the ST Office uses the information submitted by the students in their online application.
|DETERMINING Tuition Discount|
|Tuition Discount Level||Freshmen and New Students||Upperclassmen|
|ND||Over P1,300,000||Over P1,000,000|
|PD 33%||P650,001 to P1,300,000||P500,001 to P1,000,000|
|PD 60%||P325,001 to P650,000||P250,001 to P500,000|
|PD 80%||P135,001 to P325,000||P135,000 to P250,000|
|FD||P80,001 to P135,000||P80,001 to P135,000|
|FDS||P80,000 and below||P80,000 and below|
The ST-S has four basic discount categories: Full Discount (FD), Full Discount plus Stipend (FDS), Partial Discount (PD) and No Discount (ND).
Partial Discounts may vary depending on the constituent unit the student belongs to. For UP Diliman (UPD) students, these range from PD 33 percent (where students pay only P1,000 per unit), PD 60 percent (P600 per unit) to PD 80 percent (P300 per unit).
Students in an FD category are granted a 100 percent tuition discount and their miscellaneous and laboratory fees are waived. Students in the FDS category enjoy the same privilege as students with an FD category plus a monthly stipend. Freshmen categorized as FDS receive a monthly allowance of P3,500 for two semesters or one academic year. The amount may be in cash or in the form of dormitory privilege or meal coupons. Upperclassmen are given a monthly allowance of P2,400 for two semesters.
On the other hand, students in the ND category have no discount privileges and instead pay full tuition.
Applicants are not required to submit any document such as income tax returns as part of the application process, but they must review all entries before submitting the application form: changing answers or viewing these are not allowed after confirmation of the application’s submission. Results are released based on a given schedule, which according to Gonzalo may range from a couple of hours to a month, give and take the lag in the system.
Should an applicant need additional financial assistance, he or she can file an appeal at the ST Office.
Gonzalo said initial tuition discounts or the phase 1 of the application process are granted based on consumption and income clusters of households while final tuition discounts (phase 2) or those with appeals are granted based on specific household circumstances.
Among those considered in the first phase are the household’s sources of income support (earnings, pension of household members, financial assistance from members and non-members of household) and household consumption patterns. Considered in phase 2 or appeals are the narrative descriptions of the household circumstances or factors that may prevent students from studying and solutions employed by the household.