Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST)

 

The Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act, or UniFAST — also known as Republic Act No. 10687 — was signed into law in 15 October last year.The Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act, or UniFAST — also known as Republic Act No. 10687 — was signed into law in 15 October last year.UniFAST reconciles, improves, strengthens, expands, and puts under one body all government-funded modalities of Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) for tertiary education – and special purpose education assistance – in both public and private institutions. These modalities include scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans and other specialized forms of StuFAPs formulated by the UniFAST Board.

 

The UniFAST law – and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) – are intended to make the implementation of StuFAPs in the tertiary level more effective, efficient, and politically-neutral or free of political labeling.
Tertiary Education
“Tertiary Education” follows secondary education or high school. It includes post-secondary non-degree diploma, Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education programs like baccalaureate degrees (college) and graduate education (master’s, Ph.D., etc.).

 

Special Purpose Education Assistance
“Special Purpose Education Assistance” refers to research and scientific studies in the college and masteral/doctoral level funded by StuFAPs. It includes funding assistance for the following:
Writing and publication of books, manuscripts, theses, dissertations, scientific and technical journals
Production, filming and documentation (through digital technology) of research and studies
Development of instructional and academic materials, and science models

 

The UniFAST Board
The UniFAST Board consists of the Chair of CHED as UniFAST Chair; the Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as Co-Chairs; the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the National Youth Commission (NYC) as members. The chair, co-chairs and members are with the UniFAST Board by virtue of their permanent positions in their respective offices/ departments.

 

The various StuFAP operationalizations which UniFAST coordinates are implemented by CHED, TESDA and the following departments: DOST, DOLE, Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); both Houses of Congress, and other government instrumentalities such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), among others.
 

The government financial institutions (GFIs) implementing the StuFAPs include Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and the Social Security System (SSS).

 
 
Four Programs of Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access for Quality Tertiary Education Act” (UAQTEA) under UNIFAST.
 
1. FREE HIGHER EDUCATION (HE) IN SUCS AND LUCS
 
Section 4 of IRR:  Coverage. All Filipino students who are either currently
enrolled at the time of the effectivity of the Act, or shall enroll at
any time thereafter, in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any
SUC and LUC shall be exempt from paying tuition and other school
fees for units enrolled in.
 
2. FREE TECHNICAL-VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND
TRAINING (TVET) IN
 
Section 13 of IRR. Coverage. All Filipino learners who are currently
enrolled at the time of the effectivity of the Act, or shall enroll at
any time thereafter, in any TESDA-registered TVET program
leading to a non-degree certificate or diploma, including diploma
courses and bundled programs, and offered by State-run TVIs
(STVIs) shall be eligible for the free TVET provision, provided,
that they comply with the admission and retention policies and
existing residency rules of the STVIs
POST-SECONDARY STATE-RUN TVIS
 
3. TERTIARY EDUCATION SUBSIDY (TES)
 
Section 22 of IRR. Coverage. To support the cost of tertiary education or
any portion thereof, a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) program
is established for all Filipino students who shall enroll in the
following:
 
(a) for Higher Education: first undergraduate post-secondary programs
offered in SUCs, LUCs, and private HEIs, subject to prioritization
and availability of funds; and
(b) for Technical-Vocational Education and Training: post-secondary
TVET programs registered under TESDA and offered in all
TESDA-recognized TVIs, subject to prioritization and availability
of funds.

Provided, that they qualify under the existing admission and
retention requirements of the SUCs, LUCs, and private HEIs; or in
the case of students enrolled in TVET programs, they undertake
and/or qualify under the screening/assessment procedure, trade test,
or skills competency evaluation of TVIs; or under any other future
qualification policies that the UniFAST Board may mandate;
provided further, that the programs enrolled in by the students are
included in the Registry; provided finally, that the SUCs, LUCs,
private HEIs, and TVIs offering the programs enrolled in are in the
Registry.

Section 23 of IRR. Benefits. The TES may, among others, support the cost
of tertiary education or any portion thereof to cover the following:
(a) tuition and otherschool fees in private HEIs, and in private or LGU operated TVIs, which shall be equivalent to the tuition and other
school fees of the nearest SUC or State-run TVI in their respective
area;
 
(b) allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous
personal expenses, including a reasonable allowance for the
documented rental or purchase of personal computer or laptop, and
other education-related expenses;
 
(c) allowance for room and board costs incurred by the student;
(d) for a student with disability, allowance for expenses related to the
student’s disability, including special services, personal assistance,
transportation, equipment, and supplies that are reasonably
incurred; and

(e) for a student in a program requiring professional license or
certification, the one-time cost of obtaining the first professional
credentials or qualifications, which may include the following
application fees: notarial fees, review classes fees, insurance
premium fees, and documentation fees.
 
4. STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM (SLP) FOR TERTIARY
EDUCATION
 
Section 29 of IRR. Coverage. To support further the cost of tertiary
education or any part or portion thereof, a student loan program for
tertiary education is hereby established for all Filipino students.