Free higher education act is Republic Act 10931.

RA 10931, or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, ensures government full subsidy to students who intend to earn tertiary or technical-vocational education.                                                                                                          

The landmark law is scheduled to be fully implemented starting this school year 2018–2019 in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs), and technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) across the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on August 3, 2017 as part of his administration’s commitment to provide quality and affordable education for all. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) launched the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) seven months after on March 26, 2018.

The following are important highlights of the law:

  • ELIGIBLE TO FREE EDUCATION. All Filipino students who are either currently enrolled or shall enroll in any SUCs in the Philippines as long as they qualify the admissions and retention requirements of the school.
  • NOT ELIGIBLE TO FREE TUITION. The following are ineligible to free education:
    • Students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree or comparable undergraduate degree from any public or private higher education institutions (HEIs).
    • Students who fail to comply with the admission and/or retention policies of the SUCs.
    • Students who fail to complete their bachelor’s degree or comparable undergraduate degree within a year after the period prescribed in their program.
    • Students who voluntarily opt out of the free higher education provision.
  • COVERAGE OF BENEFITS. The law provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees, which includes:
    • Library fees
    • Computer fees
    • Laboratory fees
    • School ID fees
    • Athletic fees
    • Admission fees
    • Development fees
    • Guidance fees
    • Handbook fees
    • Entrance fees
    • Registration fees
    • Medical and dental fees
    • Cultural fees
    • Other school and similar or related fees
  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. The law does not prevent a student from applying other sources of financial aid such as the Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs). StuFAPs comes in three (3) forms: scholarships, grant-in-aid programs, and student loans; and administered by Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) through the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES). Designed to strengthen STuFAPS, the TES fund will be utilized to provide assistance to students in need who are enrolled in higher education institutions. Accessing this fund is different from the free tuition scheme.
  • OPT OUT MECHANISM. Students with financial capacity to pay for their education can voluntarily opt out of the subsidy for tuition and other school fees. It must be made during the enrollment period for each semester/term and shall be considered final and irrevocable for that particular semester/term. A waiver, notarized by the institution, must be made and submitted. Students who opted out shall be exempt from the civic obligation during the same semester/term.
  • STUDENT VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION MECHANISM. Students with the financial capacity to pay for their education can voluntarily contribute a particular financial amount to the SUC while availing themselves of the free higher education. It must be made during enrollment period, and with notarized waiver signed by the institution.
  • RETURN SERVICE SYSTEM. SUCs shall formulate and implement a return service for students benefiting from free education. Such guidelines shall be approved by their respective governing boards and the CHED.

Source: RA 10931 IRR


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