Free Higher Education

Posted in Articles
June 1, 2022
Free Higher Education

Who can avail the Free Higher Education Program?

Starting AY 2018-2019, all Filipino undergraduates enrolled in SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs will enjoy free tuition, miscellaneous, and other school fees, subject to the ff.

  • Pass/meet the admission and retention policies of the institution (no age or financial requirements);
  • No previous undergraduate degree; and
  • Not overstaying at the college level (e.g., maximum residency rule plus one-year grace period as provided by law)

Who cannot avail of Free Higher Education?

Filipinos who are already bachelor’s degree holders and undergraduates who are overstaying in their course and institution. Students who are not eligible shall be charged tuition and other school fees as determined by the Governing Boards of the SUCs and LUCs.

Which institutions provide Free Higher Education?

All SUCs nationwide, including all their satellite and extension campuses will provide Free Higher Education to eligible students.For AY 2018-2019, 78 CHED-recognized LUCs will provide free higher education to eligible students. Other LUCs can be added to this list once they undergo CHED recognition.

What are the conditions to continue enjoying the benefits of Free Higher Education?

Students should maintain good academic standing and should fulfill the return service requirements set by the SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs. The return service requirements should be met within the prescribed period of completing the degree program.

Students who voluntarily opt-out shall be exempt from the return service requirement as stipulated in the IRR. Students who voluntarily contribute to the institution will still be covered by the return service requirement.

How long can one enjoy the benefits of Free Higher Education?
RA 10931 provides a one-year grace period on top of the prescribed number of years of the course of the student. For example:

  • For incoming freshmen during AY 2018-2019: students in four-year courses can benefit for five years; students in five-year courses can benefit for six years.
  • For continuing students during AY 2018-2019: fourth year students in four-year courses can benefit for two years (i.e. their fourth year and the one-year grace period); third year students in five-year courses can benefit for four years (i.e. their third to fifth years and the one-year grace period).

Other unique situations of students like shifting, transferring, and returning students have specific guidelines and observe the same principle.

Will shiftees, transferees, and returning students avail of Free Higher Education?

For shiftees, any semester that the student has availed of the benefits of Free Higher Education will be subtracted from the expected duration of the current program in which the student is enrolled.

For transferees, any semester wherein the student has availed of any form of government-funded Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) shall be subtracted from the expected duration of the current program in which the student is enrolled.

For returning students and other students who went on a leave of absence (LOA), the determination and computation of their free higher education benefit shall be without prejudice to the most expedient way of completing their studies.

SUCs and LUCs shall decide on the cases that merit the extension of the availment of free higher education, provided these comply with the basic requirements under RA 10931 and guidelines. (Section 6-c IRR of RA 10931).

What are the benefits of Free Higher Education?
Starting AY 2018-2019, tuition and other school fees in SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs is free.

Aspiring students can also take admissions/entrance exams of the said institutions for free, without any condition.

What are the miscellaneous and other school fees covered by the Free Higher Education program?

As outlined in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10931, a total of 13 standard miscellaneous fees (and their synonyms) have been identified:

  • Admission Fees
  • Athletic Fees
  • Computer Fees
  • Cultural Fees
  • Development Fees
  • Entrance Fees
  • Guidance Fees
  • Handbook Fees
  • Laboratory Fees
  • Library Fees
  • Medical and Dental Fees
  • Registration Fees
  • School ID Fees
  • Other synonymous or related fees to the 13 allowed

Only the first copies/printouts of school ID, library ID and student handbook shall be free, any subsequent request by the student will be charges

What are the other fees that SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs collect?
All other fees not listed in the law and elaborated in the IRR can be collected by SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs. The IRR has defined the 13 standard miscellaneous and other school fees to cover as many expenses as possible. However, there are specialized fees or course-specific expenses (e.g. On-the-job-trainings, Related Learning Experiences for nursing students, etc.) as well as contingent fees (i.e. resulting from negative behavior) that the law does not intend to cover.

How about student publications/newsletter fees? Are they considered part of the Free Higher Education program?

Student publications/newsletters are considered as part of “Development Fees,” these are fees used to fund students’ activities, projects, and programs, some of which, if applicable, are distributed by the HEI to pertinent student groups, such as:

  • Leadership Trainings;
  • Off-campus experiential learning (field trips and the like);
  • Student partnerships and activities of student organizations;
  • Student publication/newsletter;
  • Lifelong learning activities;
  • Spiritual, social and values programs; and
  • Bridging/remedial programs

Can SUCs and LUCs increase their fees?

The IRR prescribed a five-year moratorium on the increase of all school fees. The basis for the calculation of the cost of education shall be the fee amounts during AY 2017-2018. During this moratorium period, the UniFAST will develop a set of composite fees that aim to standardize the cost of educating a student in any course anywhere in the country. This shall then be the basis of the budgets of SUCs and payments to LUCs after the moratorium period.

Can students who were affected by the implementation of K to 12 avail of the FHE?

All High School graduates are eligible to apply for admission in any higher education institution, regardless of years completed (i.e. 4th year or Grade 12) or Senior High School track (e.g. TVET, sports or arts). Some of these students may require bridging programs to cope with the requirements of higher education and their specific course. The cost of bridging programs that are approved by the Governing Board of SUCs shall be billed to the UniFAST and reimbursed to the institution.

The only conditions to this are: (1) that the students is already admitted as a bona fide student (i.e. s/he is not under conditional enrollment subject to passing the bridging program), and (2) that the bridging program be embedeed in the curriculumm of the institution. (CHED Memorandum Order No. 10, series of 7

Are summer classes free?

Starting AY 2018-2019, all summer classes that are part of the curriculum will be covered by the Free Higher Education provisions of the law.

Are petitioned classes free?

The institution shall decide whether they will provide petitioned classes or not. However, if petitioned classes are provided, these should all be in the curriculum of the relevant programs. Also, only the standard fees for offering Programs shall be covered by the law. Special arrangements wherein institutions charge petitioning students higher tuition fees or ask petitioning students to cover the fees for an entire class, is not allowed.

Are tutorial classes free?

No, these are not covered under Free Higher Education

Will beneficiaries of government or private Student Financial Assistance Programs lose their benefit if they avail of Free Higher Education?

Free Higher Education is not a Student Financial Assitance Program (StuFAP). It is given to all students of eligible providers. Therefore, as a general rule, students can benefit from both Free Higher Education and existing StuFAPs that are merit-based. (Section 46. IRR of RA 10931)

How will SUCs and LUCs treat the fund they receive from the implementation of RA 10931?

Any payments from CHED-UniFAST to SUCs and LUCs through the disbursement mechanism of billing or reimbursement shall be treated by the institutions as income.

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