Education for many is the only way to escape from poverty. However, this is not the case for some Filipinos. Based on the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority released in June last year, about 9% of the estimated 39.2 million Filipinos aged six to 24 years were out-of-school children and youth. The survey revealed that one of the most common reasons among these children and youth for not attending school was the high cost of education or financial concern.
Thankfully, there are many institutions and government agencies that give scholarships, student loans and other forms of financial aid to deserving Filipino students. These programs provide an opportunity for qualified students to earn a college degree and become a contributing member of the society later on.
The Department of Science and Technology (DoST), for instance, offers S&T Undergraduate Scholarships Program, with the aim of encouraging talented Filipino youths to pursue lifetime productive careers in science and technology.
There are two undergraduate scholarships under the said program: the Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7687, or the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994; and the DoST-SEI Merit Scholarship Program, formerly known as the NSDB or NSTA Scholarship under R.A. No. 2067. The former is awarded to talented and deserving students whose families’ socioeconomic status does not exceed the set cut-off values of certain indicators, while the latter is given to students with high aptitude in Science and Mathematics and who are willing to pursue careers in the fields of science and technology.
To provide scholarships that will finance the education of talented and deserving students in their third year of college who are pursuing degree programs in the areas of science and technology, the DoST also introduced the Junior Level Science Scholarship (JLSS) Program.
Aside from R.A. 7687 and Merit scholarships, included under this program is R.A. 10612. It aims to strengthen the country’s science and technology education by fast-tracking graduates in the sciences, mathematics and engineering who shall teach science and mathematics in secondary schools across the country.
Both S&T Undergraduate Scholarships and JLSS Program of the DoST aim to ensure a steady, adequate supply of qualified science and technology human resources in the country who can steer national progress.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) also offers Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) to provide poor and deserving Filipinos with opportunities for quality higher education. The list of available StuFAPs includes the State Scholarship Program (SSP), where full and partial scholars can receive up to P30,000 and P15,000 in aid per academic year, respectively; and the Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA), where recipients can receive up to P15,000 per academic year.
Meanwhile, aside from trainings and scholarships given to aspiring migrant workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) also offers Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP). It is a scholarship grant offered to qualified beneficiaries or dependents of active OWWA members who intend to enroll in four- or five-year baccalaureate course in any college or university.
According to OWWA’s Web site, the recipient of EDSP can receive a financial assistance amounting to a maximum of P60,000 per school year.
Aside from scholarships being offered by the government institutions, Filipino students can also fund their college education with the help of various foundations and corporations in the country whose programs cover tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses, among others. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino