THE PHILIPPINE Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) sought an additional P4.2 billion to fund the government’s free tuition program for tertiary education students to accommodate the increase in enrollees this school year.

“It is our earnest request that additional amount of P4.2 billion be appropriated for free higher education for FY 2024 to close the deficiency,” PASUC President Tirso A. Ronquillo told the House Appropriations Committee on Monday.

Mr. Ronquillo noted that P21.7 billion is allocated in the National Expenditure Program for 1.8 million tertiary education beneficiaries from state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Because of the projected program of receipt and expenditures of P25.86 billion, the budget of SUCs would mean a deficiency of P4.16 billion.

“It seems to us that this issue on deficiency will be recurring since 2022 so for 2024, we hope that the good Congress would find ways to allocate additional P4.2 billion to address the deficiency in 2024,” he said.

Under Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act institutionalizes providing free tuition and fee exemptions in SUC and local universities and colleges (LUCs).

Mr. Ronquillo also urged Congress to ensure budget allocations for educational equipment and infrastructure.

“We understand that there is a very limited fiscal space in 2024… But it is also our humble belief that in pursuit of delivering quality higher education, as we all believe and as we all espouse, equipment provision and infra development must also be prioritized,” Mr. Ronquillo said.

SUCs need approximately P17.66 billion to fund its priority projects for equipment and infrastructure.

Under the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the total budget for SUCs is at P105.58 billion.

There are a total of 114 SUCs nationwide, Mr. Ronquillo noted.

As mandated by the Constitution, the education sector receives the highest budget allocation of P924.7 billion for next year. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz