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CHED can't provide new merit scholarships this year due to budget constraint amid COVID-19

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) would not be able to grant some of its scholarships to new applicants in the upcoming academic year due to budgetary constraints amid the pandemic, according to its head on Thursday.

"'Yung student financial assistance ang tatamaan na pinakamalaki. So we are giving out a notice that we will not be able to give merit scholarships for this school year," CHED Commissioner Prospero De Vera said during a Senate hearing.

"Ang mapopondohan namin doon sa natitirang pera ay 'yung continuing lang kasi kung tatanggap kami ng bago tapos hindi mabibigyan 'yung continuing, mas kawawa sila," he added, noting that he has yet to compute how many potential beneficiaries will be affected.

De Vera explained that this has something to do with a portion of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act (UniFAST) fund, previously branded "for later release," no longer being released as a result of the belt-tightening measures of the government amid the COVID-19 situation.

The Commissioner also expressed concern for small private higher education institutions in the country after the start of the academic year was moved to August.

"Ang financial impact talaga is because the semester will be moved from June to August so there will be no tuition collection, deferred 'yan hanggang August," he said.

"'Yung maliliit na private schools na maikli ang pisi, 'yun ang unang tatamaan," he added.

Meanwhile, the CHED assured that college students who are depending on free tuition and miscellaneous fees under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act should not worry as the Department of Budget and Management had agreed to exempt the Tertiary Education Subsidy program fund from the appropriations that will not be released. -MDM, GMA News