Months after the results of the Socialized Tuition Scheme (STS) were released, the popular twitter hash tag #BracketAKaNa hit the list in the micro-blogging site’s worldwide trends. #BracketAKaNa is the common expression of the University of the Philippines System’s students expressing their disappointment, fury, and shock on the common result of their STS application which is landing at the highest bracket – the millionaire’s bracket – Bracket A.
Faye Denna is a fourth year BS Chemistry student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Only one last year for her to finally graduate and unburden her parents from the financial cargo of sending her to the most prestigious state-run university in the country. During her first year in UP she thought that the University’s unique tuition scheme would be of great help in fulfilling her desire of studying in the renowned university. But after entering UP she realized that the alluring tuition system was rather a decoy for the school’s tuition rates as high as that of a private school.
Faye Denna this year has been assigned to Bracket A on the new tuition scheme of UP which is the STS established in December 2013. The STS is the latest batch of reforms to the university’s socialized tuition system since it was first instituted in 1989. On one glance being assigned to Bracket B is quite fair after all but on the case of Faye Denna it is horrible.
A daughter of a public school teacher and a farmer from Isabela Province, being assigned to Bracket A means that her poor family will pay P1,500 per unit just for Faye Denna to finish her studies. Should she have 24 units then her parents must pay at least 36,000 for a semester’s tuition notwithstanding the fact that there are other fees collected by UP like those of Athletics, Laboratory and Cultural to cite some.
Prior the implementation of STS she was assigned to Bracket C under the previous tuition system Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) to which she paid P600 per unit just almost a thousand less than what she paid this semester. Bewildered with her current bracket assignment she then sought for a bracket reassignment to where she believes is judicious and what her parents can at the very least struggle to afford.
However, she believes that even if she was assigned to the same bracket as before, it would remain the same or perhaps even worse for her struggling parents, contrary to the promise of the UP administration to make education accessible. In a statement, UP President Alfredo Pascual said that the STS will speed up the application process, give more responsive and appropriate income brackets, and increase the financial allowance provided to poor students.
Pascual even added, “We have worked on the STS since the start of my administration in 2011 and it is part of our commitment to make sure that no qualified student will be denied a UP education on account of financial need.”