Education isn’t cheap nowadays, even in a state-run institution like the University of the Philippines. With tuition fees hitting an average of more than PhP40,000 every school year, more and more students are finding it increasingly difficult to fund their studies. Fortunately, you have quite a number of options to pay for your UP education without as much financial strain.
If you’re only about to take the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), you should make sure you do your best. The test takers with the top 50 scores are eligible to claim an Oblation Scholarship, which would let you study for any undergraduate degree without having to pay a cent. On top of that, you also get a monthly stipend from the university.
High school seniors also have the option to try for the RA 7687 scholarships under the Department of Science and Technology. A huge number of students from all campuses study under the RA 7687 scholarships. Despite the restrictions on allowable majors, the scholarship gives significant subsidies for tuition and books, and a stipend besides.
Should you be unable to make it to those test-based scholarships, you could also try going to the Office of Student Scholarships and Services (OSSS) on the 2nd floor of Vinzon’s Hall. The OSSS has an exhaustive list of grants and scholarships from both individuals and organizations. On-campus organizations and UP alumni offer many scholarships and grants, particularly to students who show exceptional academic promise.
Bear in mind, though, that selection for those scholarships can be very subjective and always goes beyond mere grades. An interview with the scholarship trustees or granters is a typical component of the selection process, so you’ll have to show how your personality and goals are in line with the scholarship’s goals.
When looking at scholarships, also be aware that most programs look for applicants that come from a particular socio-economic background. Most of the scholarships offered by local government units fall into this category. Watch out for phrases like ‘indigent,’ ‘less privileged’ and ‘financially needy’ in the eligibility terms of each scholarship or grant.
Apply for a few scholarships as soon as you receive your invitation to enroll from the university. The application process takes time, and you have to be able to get the funds in time for enrollment. Payment arrangements can vary widely between organizations, so it’s always a good idea to start early so that your enrollment goes without a hitch.
Aside from scholarships, the OSSS also offers tuition and short-term loans to students who need help funding their education for the moment. Tuition loans can be used to help pay for tuition fees during enrollment, while short-term loans are generally smaller sums for books and other school expenses.
Freshmen are allowed to borrow up to 70% of their total payable fees for the semester, while sophomores, juniors and seniors can borrow up to 80% of that amount. The loan itself can be repaid in one payment or in regular installments, so long as the entire sum is paid back by the week of final examinations for the semester.
Short-term loans work with similar terms, except that students are only allowed to borrow up to PhP1,000. The entire short-term loan plus interest and fees should also be paid back within 90 days, with the interest rate set at 0.5% per month.
Like any loan at a financial institution, the loan from the OSSS must be guaranteed, in this case by a member of the UP faculty or staff. The guarantor should have an annual salary of at least PhP72,000. A college secretary or head of office should also witness the agreement between student and guarantor. The OSSS asks repayment from the guarantor when students default on their loans.
Student loans are very often availed in tandem with on-campus employment like research assistantships. Although they don’t pay very much, the research assistantships help many students pay off their loans without encroaching so much on time used for academics.
It’s entirely possible for you to pay for your UP education, even with a less-than-ideal financial situation. Doing so isn’t exactly easy, but it’s definitely doable with a little paper pushing and by going to all the right places.