CHED urged to aid 338 students told to return funds

September 23, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 156 views

HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin on Friday urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help the 338 students who were told to return disallowed funds worth P4.4 million to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The said fund was earlier disallowed by the Commission on Audit (CoA) saying the fund represents “excessive scholarship grants.”

The “Notice of Disallowances” was issued to CHED following the discovery of grantees who were able to collect two types of financial assistance, meaning they were paid twice which is against its policy of non-duplication of financial benefits. To rectify this, students who received double or excessive grants were required to reimburse the amount equivalent to the overpayment.

CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera confirmed that they have sent notice of payment to students mostly from Regions 2 and 5, with each student being asked to return the “excess amount of scholarship grant” amounting to more or less P15,000.

“We are humbly asking Social Welfare Secretary Ewin Tulfo, may mga programa sila gaya ng Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation(AICS) na maaaring paghugutan para makabayad na ang ating mga estudyante sa CHED. This is to free them from debt at wala na silang alalahanin na may utang silang dapat na bayaran, malaki ang halaga na ito na baka ipangutang pa nga ng mga estudyante o kanilang magulang,” Garin said.

She appealed for understanding saying there could be some students who really need a higher amount of scholarship.

“Gustuhin man ng CHED to allow double scholarship dahil may ilang estudyante na kailangan naman talaga ng dagdag na pinansyal na tulong ay tali ang kanilang kamay dahil sa patakaran ng CoA na sa isang programa lang pwede mag-avail ng scholarship. Kung nakapag-avail na ng scholarship under CHED Scholarship Program (CSP) ay hindi na pwedeng maging scholar ng Department of Science and Technology (DoST) or sa ibang pang government scholarship programs,” Garin explained.

Garin said that it would be prudent to give the grantees the benefit of the doubt as she opts to believe the students who benefited from the duplication may not have been aware of the limitation of the grant, hence, demanding them to return the disallowed fund will surely become a burden.

Garin added that the disallowances happened in 2018, and this have not been repeated because safeguards have been installed which includes an updated system for Local Universities and Colleges(LUCs) and State Universities and Colleges(SUCs) containing the list of students who have availed of the scholarship programs.

“Mayroon na tayong mekanismo ngayon para hindi magkaroon ng doble dobleng grant. The CHED have also assured us that they will be more aggressive in informing the general public not to avail duplicate scholarships since the risks of reimbursing is really there,” she quipped.

On the part of CHED, Executive Director Cindy Jaro echoed the call of Garin to the DSWD. She said that as penalty the students who are still enrolled will not receive an assistance until they have complied with the reimbursement while the students who have graduated still needs to pay.

The CHED is mandated to provide financial assistance through scholarships to qualified and deserving students preferably the underprivileged and homeless citizens under Republic Act 7279, persons with disability under Republic Act 7277, solo parents and their dependents under Republic Act 8972, senior citizens under RA 9994 and Indigenous people under RA 8371.