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House Starts Probe on Tuition Hikes The successive closures of two of the country's leading pre-need education firms

finally prompted Congress to probe into tuition deregulation. However, strong pressure from various associations of private school owners and the weakness of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to control tuition hikes show that the students' decades-long fight is far from over. BY CARL MARC RAMOTA Bulatlat Days after the May 4 joint meeting of the House of Representatives Committees on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) and on Basic Education and Culture (CBEC) on tuition deregulation, Fr. Rolando dela Rosa resigned as chair of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd). He castigated the government and Congress for "their lack of political will to implement reforms in higher education and accused politicians of yielding to private school owners' interests." But as the scuffle continues, so are the looming tuition increases for the coming school year. CHEd's Failure The joint House committee meeting placed CHEd in a hot seat. The joint committee was supposed to discuss four pending bills and two resolutions on tuition hikes. House Bills 2904, 2268, 1601 and 738 seek to regulate tuition and other fees and propose the creation of a tuition regulation board or council to determine tuition rates. The bills were filed by Representatives Roquero, Tulagan, Magsaysay, Figueroa, Celeste, Puentevella, Barinaga, Syjuco, Petilla, Codilla, Amin and Nicolas. A similar version, Senate bill 302, was filed by Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, the House resolutions 35 and 100 direct the CHTE to investigate the "apparent gross failure" of CHEd to regulate tuition and other school fees and freeze proposed increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees pending investigation. The authors include representatives from Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women's Party list. CHEd's data revealed that average percentage increase in tuition for school year 2004-2005 ranged from 8 percent to 18 percent. On the other hand, the report on the average tuition increase in private schools for the coming academic year is yet to be finalized by CHEd. The Commission admitted that it has the power to regulate tuition and other fees based on Batas Pambansa 232, Section 42 or the Education Act of 1982 which states that "all applications for proposed tuition and other fee increases are subject to rules and regulations promulgated by CHEd." But private school owners claim that the same law allows them to increase tuition in

whatever rate they want, so long as it undergoes the consultation process. School owners also assert that other school fees are not covered by CHEd's supervision as it is not included in the CHEd memorandum no. (CMO) 13 or the guidelines on proposed tuition increase consultations which took effect in 1998. On the other hand, Rizza Ramirez, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) chided the Commission for its lack of political will to stand up to private school owners. "The CHEd is toothless. Since its creation, the Commission has been reduced into a mere monitoring agency. Instead of acting as the controller, CHEd willingly serves as private schools' legal stamp pad for proposed tuition increases," she pointed out. Stalled implementation Ramirez also criticized the Commission's failure to implement the revised guidelines for tuition increase consultations, which was supposed to be implemented last school year. "Two years have already passed and CHEd has yet to implement the revised guidelines. This only shows the Commission can be quickly maneuvered by private school owners whose interests will be affected by the new guidelines." Under the revised CMO 13, other school fees will now be included in the consultation in both public and private higher education institutions. It also changes the 15-day notice for concerned parties prior to consultation to 30 days. "Schools pose zero or minimal tuition increase during enrolment but they have been bloating miscellaneous fees which are mostly questionable, such as the energy fee of the University of Santo Tomas, aircon fee of the University of the East and the development fee," she said. Ramirez however admitted that while the students clinched victories for the revised guidelines, some provisions remain favorable only to school owners. "The revised guidelines still allow schools to hike tuition without consultation if the increase is less than or equivalent to the previous year's inflation rate and in schools granted autonomous and deregulated status with level II accreditation," she said. Another scheme Meanwhile, Raymond Palatino, Anak ng Bayan (children of the nation) Youth Party vice president warned of another looming scheme to further institutionalize tuition increase in higher education institutions. "The current bills filed in Congress on tuition regulation are two-faced, Palatino said. While they appear to favor regulation, these bills are proposing for the creation of tuition boards which will only institutionalize unabated yearly increases in tuition and other fees." "It's useless if it will still be dominated by powerful private school owners associations and CHEd and government officials which they can easily dictate," he said.

Instead, Palatino urged lawmakers to speed up investigations and review the Education Act of 1982 which students since the 1980's have been fighting to be scrapped. "Our lawmakers must act now before it's too late. College education in the country is in the brink of a breakdown. The first thing our legislators must to do is to scrap the government's tuition deregulation policy," the Anak ng Bayan leader said. He also called on lawmakers to probe schools which are frequently included in the top 1,000 corporations in the country and freeze planned tuition increases for the coming school year. Among these schools are Centro Escolar University (CEU), Far Eastern University (FEU), Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), University of the East (UE), AMA Computer University and STI Colleges. Bulatlat Singil sa matrikula sa mga pribadong paaralan, sisiyasatin ng Senado 05/27/2011 | 12:28 AM

MANILA Iimbestigasyon ng Senado ang umanoy hindi makatwirang pagtataas sa singil sa matrikula sa kolehiyo sa pamamagitan ng miscellaneous fees, batay sa resolusyon na inihain ni Sen Manny Villar. Sa Senate Resolution No.488, hiniling ni Villar sa Senate committee on education at youth, women and family relations, na silipin ang mga sinisingil na miscellaneous" sa mga mag-aaral sa mga pribadong pamantasan at unibersidad. Schools advertising no tuition fee hike but conceal additional and hidden charges in the guise of miscellaneous fees mislead students and parents alike," ayon sa senador. Idinagdag ng mambabatas na nagagawa ng pamunuan ng mga pamantasan at unibersidad na magtaas ng miscellaneous fee sa halagang gusto nila dahil hindi na ito kailangan pang aprubahan ng Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The non-regulation of miscellaneous fees has given some colleges and universities the freedom to impose redundant, excessive and often ridiculous charges, which they lump together in socalled miscellaneous fees," puna ni Villar. Ginawang halimbawa ng senador ang mga siningil na air-con fees, energy fees, internet/email fees, sports/athletic fees, UAAP fee, at iba pa. Ayon kay Villar, dapat maging makatwiran ang mga singil sa matrikula upang hindi mahirapan ang mga magulang sa pagpapaaral sa mga bata.

Nangangamba siya na lalong tataas ang bilang ng mga kabataan na hindi makakarating o makakatapos ng kolehiyo dahil sa walang tigil na pagtaas ng singil sa matrikula. (Basahin: CHED: More HS grads may not go to college due to high tuition fees) Sa darating na pasukan, aabot sa 281 private tertiary school ang nagtaas ng kanilang singil sa matrikula ng hanggang 30 porsiyento. - GMA News

Non-tuition fees hide real cost of private education By CANDICE MONTENEGRO, GMANews.TV 06/14/2010 | 07:35 AM More than ninety percent of private schools did not declare tuition fee increases this year, including the schools of Carla Mortel's two children. Yet when she enrolled her eldest child, she still paid the school P1,000 more than last year. The increase came not in tuition but in "miscellaneous fees." Of the P22,420 total billings at one of the schools, almost P8,000 was allocated for miscellaneous fees. "You feel kind of helpless about the situation. You just find out about the increase right before you pay," Mortel said. She added that unlike the tuition fee that can be paid on an installment basis, the miscellaneous fees need to be paid during enrollment. A 'trick' by private schools The advocacy group Parents Enabling Parents (PEP) Coalition said that adjusting miscellaneous fees to increase the total school fees is a deliberate move of private schools to increase their fees without having to go through the procedures required for a tuition fee hike. "They've been doing this trick for a long time to cover their fee increase," PEP's president Philip Piccio said. "A consultation with the parents' association is needed if [a school] wants to increase their tuition fee, and they have to declare this to DepEd. If they just increase their miscellaneous fees, they don't have to go through all the rikotitos." He said that parents are often on the losing end and left with no other choice but to just pay for the higher miscellaneous fees. "If you're a parent, you won't just pull out your child from the school just because of the increased miscellaneous fees," he said. "You're tied in. You won't do that." Eva Cruz, a mother of three, said that she's aware of the miscellaneous fees that jack up the total fees that she pays every school year. She paid roughly P42,000 for her daughter's last year of high school at Immaculate Conception Academy in Manila. P9,500 of the total bill was for miscellaneous fees which had to be settled right away.

"We are aware of these miscellaneous fees, but you just have to accept it. You can't do anything about it," she said. She said that the increase in these fees are almost inevitable, especially in good private schools. She admitted that she did not even bother to check the breakdown of the miscellaneous fees when she paid for the total tuition fee. Piccio said that PEP has been fighting for regulation that will put a cap on the rate that miscellaneous fees in private schools can be increased. "Somebody's got to regulate it. It's an abuse of most private schools," he said. Caloocan Evangelical School in Caloocan City, where one of Mortel's children is enrolled, is among about 9,000 private schools that did not declare a tuition fee increase for the upcoming school year but charged 10% higher miscellaneous fees. "Of course we have to increase our miscellaneous fees because our school's expenses for electricity, water and other utilities increase as well," Assistant Principal Ruth Castro said in a mix of English and Filipino. "The miscellaneous fees we collect from our students are used to defray expenses that also increase beyond our control." "I don't think it's an abuse on the part of private schools," she explained. "We use the additional miscellaneous fees we collect to pay for new air conditioners, free purified water that we provide the students, and the improvement of our computer room and library. It goes back to the students." Miscellaneous fees are unregulated by DepEd Tuition is regulated by the Department of Education, which can disapprove tuition increase applications. But miscellaneous fees fall below the government's radar and are meant to cover a range of services the school provides outside of classroom instruction, including airconditioning, free drinking water, and field trips. Miscellaneous fees can be added without the knowledge of the authorities. Thus, the Deped cannot say how many schools increased their miscellaneous fees. In effect, private schools can increase their total charges without declaring tuition fee increases, which are often a volatile issue that can prompt student protest and negative publicity for a school. The DepEd reports that less than 10% of the 9,995 private schools nationwide applied for tuition fee increases for school year 2010-2011, yet anecdotal evidence shows that many private schools -- nobody can say exactly how many -- increased costs they charge students' parents. Private schools' fees have two components: the basic tuition fee, which pays for the actual classes that a student takes, and miscellaneous fees, which pay for activities and facilities outside the classroom. Other miscellaneous fees include parent-teacher association (PTA) membership,

newsletter and school paper subscriptions, retreats, and diploma and yearbook payments for graduating students. DepEd Undersecretary Ramon Bacani clarified that the application for tuition fee increase pertains to the "tuition fee" component of the total fee and not the miscellaneous fees. So while only 107 out of 1,937 private elementary and secondary schools in Metro Manila applied for tuition fee increases, the rest of the schools that did not declare a tuition fee increase may still charge fees higher than what they charged the previous year. "As long as the miscellaneous fees are 'justified' to the parents and used for their intended allocation, [private schools may] increase their miscellaneous fees," he said. However, if schools can increase miscellaneous fees without informing the DepEd, authorities themselves will have no basis to know if the fee increases are indeed "justified".

Tuition and miscellaneous fees do not cover other major expenses of education such as books, school uniforms, and school supplies. Online frustration about tuition fees Enrollment in private schools started as early as May, and some parents who already paid for their children's tuition fees released their frustration and found consolation online. On GMANews.TV's Facebook fan page, a shout-out was posted to ask about the tuition fees that our readers paid for the incoming school year. The responses came from all over the country, showing the range of private schools' tuition fees from different cities and provinces. (Most of the responses were rounded off by most respondents. The figures quoted represent the total tuition fee, including miscellaneous fees.)

A year or two of preparatory school is recommended (and sometimes required) for four- to fiveyear-old children before entering the first grade. Classes range from two to four hours, and some schools also open classes for children as young as two years old. Some preparatory schools, like the Golden Angels Super Learning Center in San Juan City, advertise their school as the best preparation for the exclusive 'big schools' in Metro Manila. Golden Angels Super Learning Center, the most expensive school on our list, charges as much as P105,000.00 per student for one school year.

Hazel Manaloto, whose daughter is a student in Pasig Catholic College, posted that she paid roughly P31,000.00 for her second grader's tuition fee. She said in a phone interview that it took months to prepare for this amount. "It's my husband who works and I'm a stay-at-home mother. We started saving up for the tuition fee even before the vacation season," she said. She added that the amount does not include expenses for books, uniforms and other supplies, and that she is also sending another child to preparatory school. Generally, schools in Metro Manila are more expensive compared to schools in the provinces.

More popular schools like St. Scholastica's College, Miriam College and OB Montessori charge as much as P80,000 to P90,000 for a ten-month academic year.

All-boys schools Ateneo de Manila and La Salle Greenhills charge more than P100,000 for a year in high school. The least expensive high schools on the list charge P20,000 a year, much cheaper than their 'exclusive' counterparts but still more expensive compared to secondary public schools that are not supposed to charge any fees at all (although some public schools have been reported to be charging unauthorized fees). Facebook user Angel Alegre posted that not all schools charging exorbitant tuition fees "offer quality education." He added that Filipinos are fixated with so-called "elite" schools. However, most parents would agree that a good education is the one thing parents can bequeath to their children that nobody can take away. "Sending kids to school and paying for tuition nowadays is no joke," Hazel Manaloto said in Filipino. "But it's the best thing you can do for your kids." - HS, GMANews.TV Dubious miscellaneous school fees exposed at Senate KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA News 06/02/2011 | 02:10 PM A party-list lawmaker and two student organizations on Thursday bared at a Senate committee hearing some "dubious" miscellaneous fees allegedly being collected by tertiary schools nationwide, among them resum printing fee, thesis proposal fee, and band fee. "Dubious, redundant, unreasonable, miscellaneous fees abound in many of our schools. These 'hidden' fees escape the radar of our education agencies like Commission on Higher Education (CHED)," said Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino during the hearing.

The lawmaker specifically cited the collection of some schools of band fee (University of Nueva Caceres), thesis proposal fee (St. Scholastica's College), thesis editing fee (St. Scholastica's College), resume printing (St. Scholastica's College), memorabilia fee (Polytechnic University of the Philippines), Pistang Pinoy fee (Letran), and communication fee (Central Luzon State University). Palatino, who was joined by National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), noted that there are colleges and universities that collect energy fees separate from aircon fees, and sports fees apart from athletic fees. Aside from these, SCAP National Capital Region vice chairperson Ranulfo Javelosa III also revealed that there was a school in Isabela that collects a founder's day fee. "We would like to demonstrate here that there are miscellaneous fees that burden our parents and the people who support our education apparently for unfathomable reasons," he said. Javelosa said that miscellaneous fees comprise around 30 to 40 percent of the total cost of education, but Palatino said that there are some schools whose miscellaneous fees exceed the tuition rate itself. "We are not against the collection of miscellaneous fees but some of these fees are unreasonable. Some schools don't (even) provide a breakdown," Palatino said during the hearing. NUSP president Einstein Recedes, however, said that there is also need to regulate tuition rates because of the rising dropout rate, which he said now stands at 83.72 percent, producing only 416,000 college graduates in a decade. He said this is while the five top-grossing schools in the country raked in P15.43 billion in revenue. "Alam ng CHED yan dahil nagpapasa naman ng audited income ang schools (CHED knows that because schools submit audited incomes)," he said. Denial Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines legal counsel Ana Abad noted that St. Scholastica had consulted the parents and students regarding the fees that they collect. Lawyer Antonio Abad, legal counsel of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), likewise said that the cited bogus miscellaneous rates are "isolated cases." "As far as our membership in PACU is concerned, our miscellaneous fees are reasonable," he said during the same hearing. He likewise said that miscellaneous fees differ from school to school depending on their clientele. "The different private schools cater to different social classes," he said.

Moreover, PACU's Abad noted that they cannot just operate on the money left from the tuition they charge. According to CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo, the law mandates that 70 percent of the tuition paid by students be used for the salary of the teaching and non-teaching personnel. "We have to impose miscellaneous fees so that we will be able to survive... otherwise the quality of education will go down. Although it is clich but is in infallible truth that quality education is expensive," said PACU's Abad. Recedes, for his part, said that they are not asking schools not to increase tuition, but that there is a need to regulate their rates. "Di naman po kami nagagalit sa mga eskwelahan na nagtataas ng matrikula kung nalulugi na sila... ayaw naman po namin magsara ang aming mga eskwelahan (We are not angry at schools for increasing their tuition rates to survive, we don't want our schools to close down)," he said. Compromise Vitriolo admitted that the miscellaneous fees cited by Palatino and the two groups were suspicious. But he said that CHED has already drafted a proposal to rationalize such fees. "There are legitimate miscellaneous fees that need to be collected but the other incidental fees need to be studied. Maybe we will consult the different stakeholders," he told reporters after the hearing. The CHED official said that there are 10 "core" miscellaneous fees, which include registration fee, medical and dental fee, athletic fee, and laboratory fee, which students are required to pay schools. PACU's Abad did not object to prospect of rationalizing miscellaneous fees as long as they are not scrapped. "I hope that they are not going to outlaw the imposition of miscellaneous fees. But we are open to the suggestion that there be some regulation," he said in a separate interview. "I hope that we'll be able to reach a win-win situation wherein schools, students, and other officials of government will be able to arrive at a happy compromise and amicable settlement," he added. In the meantime, Senate education committee Sen. Edgardo Angara suggested that the government expand the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE). "We ought to alleviate the plight of students and parents," he said.

GASTPE, which was born from Republic Act No. 6728, aims to subsidize the transfer of public school students to private schools. Last March, the Department of Budget and Management released P5.769 billion for the program. Earlier, however, Angara said that the government should find an additional P2 billion to channel to GASTPE so that students won't be burdened by rising tuition rates. Vitriolo said that 324 private colleges and universities are eligible to increase their tuition for the coming school year. He added that they increase their rates at 10 percent or P38 per unit on the average. He noted, however, that the state universities and colleges have committed not to increase their tuition because the cuts on their budget were restored. Vitriolo said that students and parents can complain regarding suspicious miscellaneous fees to his office. KBK, GMA News

CHED: More HS grads may not go to college due to high tuition fees CANDICE MONTENEGRO, GMA News 05/18/2011 | 01:41 PM The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said more high school graduates may not move on to college as almost 300 private colleges and universities will increase their tuition fees by up to 15 percent, a report of Unang Balita said on Wednesday. CHED said the tuition fee increase would mean an additional cost of P30 to P100 per academic unit.

CHED announced over the weekend that 282 out of 1,792 colleges and universities in the country will implement a tuition fee increase this coming school year. St. Lukes College of Medicine in National Capital Region will increase its tuition fee by 12 percent, while Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Miriam College, University of the East College of Medicine, Assumption College and OB Montessori will increase tuition by 5 percent. University of Santo Tomas, De La Salle University and University of the East-Manila will increase their tuition fees by about four percent. High percentage

According to CHED data for 2010, two out of five high school graduates (or about 40 percent) did not proceed to college. CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo said the high cost of tertiary education discourages students, especially those who are underprivileged, from enrolling. "Para sa mga kapos na kapos, maaring magkaroon ng problema sa pasukan kasi baka hindi nila matustusan ang kanilang pag-aaral," he said. However, Vitriolo said CHED cannot do anything about the tuition increases as schools have the right to increase their tuition following certain limits. Vitriolo said teachers and school staff are the ones who benefit from tuition increases because 70 percent of the fee increase usually goes to their salaries. State colleges and universities Meanwhile, Vitriolo encouraged students who cannot afford private schools to enroll in state universities and colleges (SUC) that have significantly lower tuition fees compared to private schools. At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), for example, a student pays only P12 per academic unit, or about P700 per semester, including miscellaneous fees. This is much cheaper than private universities' tuition, which can go for as high as P2,000 per unit or more than P100,000 per semester. VVP, GMA News