You’ve gotten through most of high school when you’re faced with a whole new challenge – college. Aside from all the independence issues that come along with it, college brings the cost of education to a whole new level. With tuition fees soaring to more than fifty grand per semester, maybe it’s time you begin looking for a college scholarship.
Believe it or not, all of the major universities in the country offer one form or another of financial aid. In fact, a good number of students in the bigger private institutions are there on a scholarship or with the help of financial aid from the university itself. If it’s a money problem you have, there’s no need to look far for a solution.
Grades for Tuition
Merit scholarships are the best and most straightforward way to jump on the free tuition boat. Every university has its own system for it: there’s the Merit Scholarship at Ateneo de Manila, the Star Scholar program in De La Salle and the Oblation Scholarship at the University of the Philippines. But just because they sound so common doesn’t mean it’s easy to get into those programs.
Ateneo de Manila University’s Merit Scholarship is only offered to the Top 50 passers of its Ateneo College Entrance Exam (ACET). UP also offers Oblation Scholarships to just the Top 50 as well. Considering that both schools get more than 50,000 applicants each year, you’ll really have to work hard to make it to the top of the heap.
Schools that offer scholarships typically consider more than just your entrance test score. De La Salle University, for example, conducts interviews to find candidates for the Star Scholarship that fit into their ideal student profile. Ateneo de Manila looks at community involvement and leadership potential, while UP considers extracurricular achievements.
Now that you’re looking for a scholarship for your college education, you hopefully have a good high school resume to show the admissions panels. All the schools take a look at your high school transcript and track your performance throughout your four years of secondary education. They’re usually less strict on students from science high schools, but try to make your papers impressive nonetheless.
If you’re going to look to the schools themselves for a scholarship, you’d better have at least three things:
- An impressively high entrance test score, which is usually what gets your application noticed in the first place
- An equally formidable high school transcript to strengthen your case to the school
- The ideal student profile. The officials have to be convinced that you belong in their school, and that you can give something back once you graduate.
Go to the Government
The Philippine government also has quite a range of scholarship offerings if you plan to pursue a degree in math, engineering and the sciences. The Department of Science and Technology, in particular, gives out hundreds of scholarships each year to incoming college freshmen who will be pursuing those courses.
Call up the DOST-SEI office in Bicutan and ask about the courses that would qualify for their program. If the degree program you plan to get is on the list, you can go and take the DOST scholarship screening exam, which usually takes place around September. All you have to do is pass that, and you get a hefty subsidy on your tuition fees.
DOST scholars are entitled to receive up to PhP6,000 in tuition fee subsidies each school semester, up to PhP5,000 book allowance every school year and up to PhP4,000 in living allowances (stipends) every month. Do all the adding up and you’ll agree that all those zeros add up to a fairly big sum over the course of your education.
It doesn’t come without its strings, however. The contract for the DOST scholarship has a return service clause in it which keeps scholars from migrating or moving abroad right after graduation. There’s an enforced period when all scholars who have graduated will have to work in the country in order to ‘pay back’ the DOST investment in tuition fees.
Asking for Help
Should you find yourself about to enroll in the school of your choice without any money with which to pay tuition, you may also want to approach your school directly. Many have financial aid programs that will give discounted tuition fee rates to students with academic ability and/or demonstrated need. There’s a lot of paperwork to be done, but it’s worth it if you think about all the tuition money you’d save.
Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle have particularly generous financial aid offers. Many students of either school are able to attend thanks to the work of the financial aid offices. You also don’t need to be in abject poverty to get a scholarship; countless students there have qualified for full tuition subsidies, yet are very far from the poorhouse. Just be sure to ask the aid office as soon as you get your acceptance letter, as funds are often limited.
UP, meanwhile, has a socialized tuition fee scheme where you pay a tuition rate that’s commensurate to your family’s paying capacity. Most middle class families have to pay PhP1,000 per unit – about PhP20,000 per semester – but there are also many who have to shell out much less. This can also be supplemented with research assistant posts within the campus to help defray the cost of tuition.
Money need never be a hindrance to your getting a good college education. As you can see, you have quite a number of options to work with, regardless of your course or school. It just takes some elbow grease and paper pushing, but it’s well worth that degree at the end of it all.