The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Thursday that it could not grant new merit scholarships this year due to budget constraints as the government realigned most of its efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III said the current budget of the commission can only cover existing scholarships. Granting new scholarships might lead to the discontinuation of existing scholarships, he said.
“We are giving out a notice that we will not be able to give merit scholarship for this school year,” 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. At least, huwag na lang tatanggap ng mga bagong scholar,” he added.
(We can only fund the continuing scholarships because if we accept new ones, we cannot allot funds for existing scholars and that’s more disadvantageous. We will not accept new scholars. )
The Department of Budget and Management earlier requested all government agencies and offices to submit a report on funds that can be realigned for the country’s COVID-19 response.
De Vera said part of the funds for the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act, will no longer be released. The fund provides aid to college students.
Under Republic Act No. 7722, CHED has the mandate to provide financial assistance through scholarships to qualified and deserving students.
This gives preference to underprivileged and homeless students, persons with disability, solo parents and/or their dependents, and indigenous peoples.