FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What are the objectives of the law?

  2. What is the scope of the UniFAST?

  3. What are the modalities of StuFAPs and their differences under the UniFAST law?

  4. Will the modalities of StuFAPs under the UniFAST be limited to these three?

  5. What are the qualifications for availment of the modalities of UniFAST?

  6. What body is created by the law to monitor the implementation of this Act and to formulate policies and strategies to ensure its continuing improvement and success?

  7. Who shall comprise the UniFAST Board?

  8. How will the law ensure sound financial management and accountability of StuFAP funds under the UniFAST?

  9. How will the Board determine the performance, progress and impact of the UniFAST on its intended beneficiaries?

  10. Who will oversee the implementation of the UniFAST?

  1. What are the objectives of the law?

     

    The law seeks to: (a) allocate and utilize properly all government resources intended for students through effective beneficiary-targeting; (b) ensure consistency, continuity, and efficient coordination of student financial assistance     policies and programs; (c) ensure regional equity in the distribution of student financial assistance slots; (d) produce a pool of highly qualified graduates and technical experts who will       contribute to the country’s high-level labor force through merit and talent-based scholarships; (e) facilitate access to quality education through Grants-in-Aid for students belonging to marginalized sectors; and (f) assist students with liquidity issues through student loans.

  2. What is the scope of the UniFAST?

     

    The UniFAST shall cover all existing modalities of Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) for Tertiary Education and Special Purpose Education Assistance in both public and private institutions, and includes scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans and government programs in partnership with other stakeholders, that are nationally funded and/or implemented by national and local government agencies, branches and instrumentalities. A student enrolling in tertiary education, whether in public, private, national or local institutions, can avail of any one or more of the said modalities of StuFAPs.

    The UniFAST under this Act shall harmonize, reform, strengthen, expand, rationalize, and re-focus all legislated or ongoing StuFAPs of the government for greater efficiency, coherence, synchronization, effective funding, and improved coordination among implementing entities in their specific jurisdiction. However, the existing programs implemented by other government agencies and state-funded StuFAPs that have been found effective and which have specific and targeted beneficiaries such as the technical-vocational scholarship programs under the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), the National Scholarships Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (NAFES), Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Scholarship (ACEFS), the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994, the Fast-Tracked S&T Scholarship Act of 2013, the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (E-GASTPE) Act, Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) of the CHED and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which shall continue to be under the jurisdiction of the agencies currently responsible for their design and implementation shall be continued. Moreover, the beneficiary-targeting and standards for selection and retention and awards of these programs shall be compliant with the overall policies on quality, sustainability, and efficiency to be set by the UniFAST Board.

  3. What are the modalities of StuFAPs and their differences under the UniFAST law?

     

    The modalities of StuFAPs under the UniFAST are comprised of the scholarship, grant-in-aid and student loan modalities.

    Scholarship refers to a modality of financial assistance given to eligible students on the basis of merit and/or talent, such as laudable academic performance, and special technical proficiencies and skills and intellectual pursuits of a Scholar that give rise to research and development, and innovations as well as other creative works. Its beneficiary is called a “scholar”.

    Grant-in-Aid refers to a modality of financial assistance to poor but eligible students which generally requires a minimum level of competence to complete Tertiary Education. Its beneficiary is called a “grantee”.

    Student loan refers to a modality of student financial assistance consisting of short-term or long-term loans which shall be extended to students facing liquidity problems, regardless of economic status, which shall be paid by the student, his/her parents, guardians, or co-makers. A beneficiary of a national student loan program is called a “student-borrower”.

    Under the law, a unified, improved, and expanded government-funded scholarship program shall be instituted to promote an environment conducive for the development of bright and talented students to serve the public good and enlarge the pool of world-class Filipino researchers, artists, innovators, thinkers, and leaders. To improve equity and facilitate democratic access to quality education given income poverty and inequity, Grants-in-Aid shall be made available to students belonging to poor families and marginalized sectors. Likewise, the Board shall pursue a long-term plan for the development of a self-sustaining National Student Loan Program (NSLP) which shall provide qualified students short-term and long-term financial assistance for Tertiary Education. This plan shall be based on a systematic evaluation of lessons learned from current and past Student Loan schemes, both local and international.

  4. Will the modalities of StuFAPs under the UniFAST be limited to these three?

     

    No. The law provides that the Board may develop other modalities of StuFAPs. The Board, the implementing agencies, SUCs, and public technical-vocational institutes (TVIs) may promulgate and develop other forms of StuFAPs, such as private scholarship or sponsorship programs, and student or graduate assistance programs, in accordance with the standards and guidelines set by the Board.

  5. What are the qualifications for availment of the modalities of UniFAST?

     

    The applicant for any of the modalities under the UniFAST must meet the following minimum qualifications: (a) must be a Filipino citizen, but the Board may grant exemptions to foreign students based on reciprocal programs that provide similar benefits to Filipino students, such as student exchange programs, international reciprocal Scholarships, and other mutually beneficial programs; (b) must be a high school graduate or its equivalent from duly authorized institutions; (c) must possess good moral character with no criminal record, but this requirement shall be waived for programs which target children in conflict with the law and those who are undergoing or have undergone rehabilitation; (d) must be admitted to the higher education institution (HEI) or TVI included in the Registry of Programs and Institutions of the applicant’s choice, provided that the applicant shall be allowed to begin processing the application within a reasonable time frame set by the Board to give the applicant sufficient time to enroll; (e) in the case of technical-vocational education and training or TVET programs, must have passed the TESDA screening/assessment procedure, trade test, or skills competency evaluation; and (f) in the case of scholarship, the applicant must obtain at least the score required by the Board for the Qualifying Examination System for Scoring Students and must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the Board.

    The applicant has to declare also if he or she is already a beneficiary of any other student financial assistance, including government StuFAP. However, if at the time of application of the scholarship, grant-in-aid, student loan, or other modalities of StuFAP under this Act, the amount of such other existing grant does not cover the full cost of tertiary education at the HEI or TVI where the applicant has enrolled in, the applicant may still avail of the StuFAPs under this Act for the remaining portion

  6. What body is created by the law to monitor the implementation of this Act and to formulate policies and strategies to ensure its continuing improvement and success?

     

    The law creates the UniFAST Board, which shall exercise the following powers and functions:

    1. formulate and approve policies and strategies for UniFAST, and review existing policies to ensure consistency with policy framework under this Act;
    2. coordinate with the implementing agencies of existing StuFAPs in the formulation, approval and issuance of guidelines towards the development and promotion of the UniFAST;
    3. provide necessary support to implementing agencies, technical or otherwise, to ensure the effective implementation of this Act;
    4. prepare, approve, and submit to the CHED its own budget proposal, in addition to the individual budget proposals prepared by the various implementing agencies, including vetting, modifying, and integrating all requests for public funding of tertiary education StuFAPs;
    5. promulgate the minimum guidelines, rules, and regulations for determining qualified Beneficiaries of student financial assistance for tertiary education;
    6. provide general guidelines for the drawing up of contracts with the student Beneficiaries specifying the rights and obligations of the parties that may include a service clause or such other stipulations of cost recovery the Board may deem in the best interest of the public and consistent with, or responsive to, national social, economic, and human resources development plans, subject to Section 12 of the law;
    7. monitor, assess, and make impact evaluation of StuFAPs and projects, with the end in view of determining whether these programs shall be adopted, continued, or terminated
    8. adopt a Qualifying Examination System for Scoring Students for merit and talent based StuFAPs and determine the eligibility for grants-in-aid and other modalities of StuFAPs;
    9. provide and promote a supportive policy environment for the growth and development of private sector participation for scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans or other modalities of StuFAP;
    10. establish and maintain, on the public websites of CHED and TESDA, a database containing information on StuFAPs and accredited public and private Tertiary Education programs and institutions;
    11. take all necessary actions to disseminate information on the database established and maintained under this Act in order to encourage its use by interested parties and to ensure that Beneficiaries are able to maximize the benefits from UniFAST through informed decision-making, allowing them freedom of choice among accredited public and private Tertiary Education programs and institutions;
    12. design a program of generating funds for the UniFAST;
    13. facilitate and tap donations, legacies, gifts and other forms of contribution, whether in cash or in kind, from both public and private sources and to tap the services and assistance of experts, in accordance with Section 20 of the law: Provided, That such donations, legacies, and contributions of cash or property duly received shall be exempt from donor’s tax and shall be allowable deductions for income tax purposes in accordance with Section 34-H of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended;
    14. appoint members of the UniFAST Secretariat, upon the recommendation of the Executive Director;
    15. appoint one (1) or more legal officers with authority to file cases in court;
    16. set up, maintain and update an official registry of quality-assured academic and research programs and Tertiary Education institutions in accordance with Section 3 of the law;
    17. approve the appropriate honorarium and per diem for the members of the Board, in accordance with the relevant government rules and regulations;
    18. develop an efficient tracking system of Student-Borrowers, as well as a system of disbursement and collection of payments of loans granted under this Act, including entering into agreements with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), GSIS, SSS, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Credit Information Corporation (CIC), private and public banks and banking intermediaries, credit information bureaus, and other government financial institutions, inclusive of investigating and checking the whereabouts of delinquent Student-Borrowers, and setting up mechanisms for blacklisting of defaulting Student-Borrowers in application for loans, credit cards, and other credit facilities; and
    19. perform such other powers and functions as may be deemed necessary and incidental for the effective implementation of this Act.
  7. Who shall comprise the UniFAST Board?

     

    The UniFAST Board shall be composed of the following: (a) the CHED Chairperson as ex-officio Chairperson; (b) the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as ex-officio Co-Chairperson; (c) the TESDA Director-General as ex-officio Co-Chairperson; (d) the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) as ex-officio member; (e) a representative from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as ex-officio member; (f) a representative from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as ex-officio member; and (g) a representative from the National Youth Commission (NYC) as ex-officio member.

  8. How will the law ensure sound financial management and accountability of StuFAP funds under the UniFAST?

     

    The law provides for the following:

    1. All public funds allocated to the government StuFAPs for tertiary education shall be managed according to standard government accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
    2. Specialized processes and procedures shall be developed to enhance transparency and accountability suitable to the program or project for which the fund has been provided.
    3. A separate book of accounts shall be kept by each implementing agency for the UniFAST StuFAP Funds. It shall follow standard government rules and regulations for accounting.
    4. Implementing agencies of the StuFAP Funds may adopt additional measures to ensure its safety, particularly in authorizing payments and processing of disbursements from the Funds and to facilitate a convenient and efficient means of delivering financial assistance to the beneficiaries.
    5. A mid-year and annual report shall be prepared by all implementing agencies. The report shall have two parts: a financial statement and a report of operations showing the accomplishments of the fund. These reports shall be submitted to Congress and the DBM to inform and aid in decision making and shall be made available to other interested parties for valid and acceptable reasons. The list of Beneficiaries and the amount of financial assistance received shall be made available upon request.
    6. The agencies and instrumentalities implementing StuFAPs are required to submit reports, make their selection process transparent to the public, and comply with the requirements that the Board may impose to ensure that these programs are in line with the national policy framework on student financial assistance.
  9. How will the Board determine the performance, progress and impact of the UniFAST on its intended beneficiaries?

     

    The Board shall rigorously evaluate and regularly monitor the UniFAST in terms of its impact on desired results and its progress towards achieving them. It shall clearly define those results and their target values. Impact evaluation shall be measured against, among others: (a) Education outcomes such as enrolment in level IV-accredited HEls, as may be determined in the Implementing Rules and Regulations, and number of graduates (by type of study program); (b) Economic indicators such as income and employment of Beneficiaries after graduation; and (c) Indicators for contributions to community service and public good.

    Performance and progress shall, in addition, be measured with regard to: (a) number of students covered by Scholarships, Grants-in-Aid, Student Loans, or other modalities of StuFAP; (b) type of study program, (c) level of HEI enrolled in, and (d) initial economic status. Tracer studies and survey data for experimental and quasi-experimental analyses shall be undertaken to produce credible impact evaluation studies, as may be determined by the Board. The major programs of the Board shall be evaluated within five (5) years from the date of its implementation.

  10. Who will oversee the implementation of the UniFAST?

     

    Under the law, a Congressional Oversight Committee on UniFAST shall be created, which shall have the power to oversee the implementation of this Act, and inquire into the book of accounts of the Board, when necessary. It shall require the Board to submit, on a periodic basis, the financial statements, policy statements, issuances and other documents and information of the Board, subject to existing laws and regulations.

Disclaimer: The UNIFAST Act was signed last October 16, 2015. The full implementation of this law will start once the implementing rules and regulations are done which will come from the executive department.