Contrary to media reports (Manila Bulletin, Inquirer.net, ABS-CBN news online, GMA network.com) published on 16 August 2018, quoting COA Annual Audit Reports, alleging that there is very low disbursements of the P8B Free Tuition Fund to state universities and colleges (SUCs), almost all of the 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), have been reimbursed for the first and second semesters of AY 2017-2018.

Only two SUCs, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy and Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College have received no reimbursements because the former has a separate budget allocation for tuition in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2017, while the latter was not able to report income in their Budget Expenditure and Sources of Financing (BESF) for 2017.

The balance left from the P8B fund are being processed for reimbursements for the summer or midterm of AY 2017-2018 claims of SUCs, and those that have appealed and presented additional billings based on actual enrollment numbers in said academic year.

The delays in the reimbursement were caused by the following:

1. The difference in the fiscal year and academic year. While funds are appropriated on a fiscal year basis, it is reimbursed by CHED to SUCs on an academic year basis, which spans two fiscal years. Reimbursement for the 1st semester tuition is sent to CHED in July or August by universities that open their academic year in June, while universities that open in August bill CHED in September or October. The year-end disbursement of CHED tends to be low because it does not yet include 2nd semester reimbursements.

2. The special provision in the 2017 GAA to “prioritize poor but deserving students” required SUCs to include in their reimbursement claims an income-based ranking of their students. This delayed the submission of SUC reimbursement claims to CHED in the first semester of AY 2017-2018.

Upon assumption as CHED OIC in January 2018, De Vera directed CHED and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) to fast track the payment of first semester reimbursement claims which was completed first week of February 2018. Majority of SUCs were reimbursed for their 2nd semester claims in the 1st quarter of 2018.

The Free Tuition 2017 program is a special provision in the 2017 GAA. It provided free tuition for all undergraduate students enrolled in 112 SUCs in AY 2017-2018. Free Tuition 2017 is different from the Free Higher Education program under Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act”, which is being implemented in AY 2018-2019.

(signed)
J. PROSPERO E. DE VERA III, DPA
Officer-in-Charge and Spokesperson
Commission on Higher Education