Bill granting free tuition in state colleges hurdles House

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers approved on 3rd and final reading the measure seeking to provide free tuition and other fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and state-run technical and vocational institutions nationwide.

A total of 221 legislators gave their nod to House Bill Number 5633 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act during the plenary session on Monday, May 22. None of the lawmakers present voted no or abstained from voting.

The Senate approved its own version of the bill in March. This means the measure will soon be transmitted to the Office of the President. 

Should the bill become a law, all Filipino residents enrolled in SUCs and other state-run technical and vocational institutions no longer need to pay any school fees. The students, however, must have passed the admission test and met the other retention requirements of their school. (READ: Free tuition in state colleges: What the bill says

SUCs and technical and vocational institutions will not be allowed to collect fees from students.

“In its stead, the amount required to implement the free tuition and other school fees in the SUCs shall be determined by  the respective governing boards of SUCs based on the expected total cost of attendance, in relation to the number of projected enrolees for each academic year,” reads HB 5633. 

The budget for technical and vocational institutions, meanwhile, will be determined by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) based on the expected total cost of attendance, in relation to the projected number of enrolees for each course.

A tertiary education subsidy for financially-disadvantaged students as well as student loan program will be established, with the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education determining the appropriate amount.  

The money will be taken from the budgets of Tesda and the Commission on Higher Education. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.