Over many years of existence, the University of the Philippines system has become the institution for Filipinos from all walks of life who want a world-class education. For the less privileged, this often means getting into the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program or STFAP.
Known by its acronym or the moniker Iskolar ng Bayan Program, the STFAP aims to make a UP education more accessible to lower-income Filipinos. At the same time, the program tries to create a tuition fee structure that lets students pay only what they are able to afford. Ever since its establishment in SY 1989-1990, the STFAP has helped countless UP students finish their degrees in the university system.
The STFAP is open all Filipino citizens who’ll be enrolling in an undergraduate program within any campus. A bachelor’s degree in any program automatically disqualifies you from receiving subsidy, except when applying for a medical or law degree. Criminal, administrative or civil cases may also be grounds for disqualification from the program.
Students can use the STFAP in combination with other scholarships to fund tuition and other expenses. However, the STFAP will only give a subsidy amounting to a maximum of 1.5 times the difference between the printed STFAP subsidy rate and the non-STFAP rate. Many students take advantage of the STFAP in conjunction with other scholarships like the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) scholarships for science majors.
Forms needed for applying to the STFAP program may be claimed for 10 pesos at any university campus, or can simply be downloaded from the STFAP site and printed. The accomplished forms must then be submitted to the STFAP office of the campus where you intend to enroll. Every STFAP application also requires the submission of various papers demonstrating financial need.
If you intend to apply for an STFAP subsidy, be ready with your entire family’s financial records. The application form asks an exhaustive list of questions regarding the earning capacity of every member of your household. All the household expenses and incomes must also be listed down and submitted. Utility bills, income tax returns and real property papers are also required attachments to the accomplished STFAP form.
STFAP applications are processed in batches starting with an early batch. The first batch of processed applications are released as early as a month prior to enrollment, while the last one is posted as late as a month into the semester.
The STFAP makes use of tiered alphabetized brackets, with each lettered tier symbolizing an income level for each student’s family. Upon enrollment, all UP students are assumed to belong to Bracket A – the bracket for families earning more than PhP1,000,000 each year – with its tuition rate of PhP1,500 per unit enrolled.
You can enter Bracket B – incomes of PhP500,000 to PhP1,000,000 – upon presentation of a signed certification and the necessary financial documents at validation. Otherwise, you’ll have to accomplish the STFAP application form and submit it to the STFAP office.
Under the STFAP, you can get benefits with regard to tuition fee payments, laboratory fees and, in some cases, a monthly stipend from the university. The brackets with their corresponding benefits are as follows:
- Bracket A (income of over PhP1,000,000 annually) students pay the full tuition fee at PhP1,500 per unit
- Bracket B (income of PhP500,001 to PhP1,000,000 annually) students pay only the base tuition at PhP1,000 per unit
- Bracket C (income of PhP250,001 to PhP500,000 annually) applicants pay 60% of the base tuition at PhP600 per unit
- Bracket D (income of PhP135,001 to PhP250,000 annually) students pay 30% of the base tuition at PhP300 per unit
- Bracket E1 (income of PhP80,001 to PhP135,000 annually) and Bracket E2 (income of PhP80,000 or less annually) students do not have to pay tuition fees. Additionally, Bracket E2 students get a monthly allowance valued at PhP12,000 every semester or about PhP2,400 every month.
Students categorized under Brackets A through D also have to pay full laboratory and miscellaneous fees amounting to about PhP2,000 upon enrollment.
Applications for the STFAP should be done prior to enrollment so that your benefits may be deducted from the amount you have to pay at the Office of the University Registrar (OUR). If your processed STFAP application is not yet available by the time you get to validation, you will have to pay the full tuition rate for the moment. Your STFAP benefits will be applied later on, and the university will issue a refund for the difference.
A student’s STFAP bracket is valid for the entire school year applied, and is renewable every year. In order to qualify for reapplication to the STFAP, you should
- have a general weighted average (GWA) of at least 3.0 for the previous year
- not have dropped more than one course or subject
- receive grades in at least 15 units, not considering incomplete or dropped subjects
Be sure to ask questions well before deadlines. The staff at the STFAP offices are usually very helpful and will be glad to help you with queries and concerns. Once the deadline passes, however, they can do little to change your status until applications reopen.