Rep. Roman Romulo, sponsor and author of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act,  expressed today his gratitude to President Aquino for signing the bill into law.

In a press statement, Rep. Romulo said the House of Representatives, the Senate and the President should be lauded for this landmark legislation which shall unify and harmonize all existing publicly-funded national government programs for Scholarships, Grants-in-Aid and Student Loans for Tertiary Education, thereby improving efficiency and ensuring that deserving Filipinos are given equitable access to educational opportunities.

 “The UNIFAST effectively empowers all Filipino youth who dream of a good education by giving them access to the financial means of achieving that dream. Now even without the patronage of politicians, the Filipino youth can get financial assistance or grants to achieve a good education. “ he said.

Republic  Act No. 10687 or the  UniFAST Act is an indispensable supplement to the recently enacted Iskolar ng Bayan Act which aims  to reward and acknowledge the excellent performance of the top ten graduates of the almost 8,000 public high schools nationwide through free tuition and miscellaneous fees upon enrollment in any of the 113 state universities and colleges in the country.

Romulo said that the benefits under the UniFAST Act are very broad and can be availed of not only by students who excel academically or those with special talents, but also by those who need financial assistance to complete their college or technical-vocational education in any of the country’s public and private schools and regardless of their ranking in class. He noted that the financial assistance programs under the UniFAST law include scholarships based on merit, grants-in-aid for poor students and marginalized sectors, and student loans for those with liquidity problems, but with capacity to pay in the future.

“Through the UniFAST, students who want to study will have access to financial assistance for them to pursue tertiary education in public or private higher education institutions numbering almost 2,000, as well as the various short-term technical-vocational schools under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority,” Romulo added.

As Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, Rep. Romulo has championed the enactment of laws that will provide greater access of more Filipinos to quality education. Aside from the UniFAST Act, the other newly enacted laws which he authored are the Ladderized Education Act, Open Distance Learning Act and the Iskolar ng Bayan Act. He is also pushing for the passage of bills that will provide discounts to underprivileged students, as well as free college entrance examination, promote quality assurance in higher education institutions, and ensure campus safety and security.

Romulo also stated that he agrees with National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan, who previously stressed that investing in education is one way by which the country can achieve inclusive growth.

“It has always been my    commitment as a representative of the Filipino people to ensure that all Filipinos of school age from all walks of life are given full expanded education opportunities. That is why we must explore all possible avenues to promote tertiary education so that poverty will no longer be a bar that will prevent any Filipino from attaining the proper education that he is entitled to. I want to see the day when it will become impossible for a property educated Filipino to remain poor. He may not become rich but he will not be wanting,” he concluded.