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Gatchalian: 2024 budget to avert free higher education funding deficiencies

The 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) or Republic Act No. 11975 will address the potential funding deficiency in free higher education in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), Senator Win Gatchalian assured.

The 2024 GAA carried a special provision that Gatchalian proposed, which provides that the unused balances of the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) shall be used to pay the deficiencies between the 2024 allocation for free higher education in SUCs and the program of receipts and expenditures, which is based on the actual number of enrollees and fees approved by SUCs’ board of regents or trustees.

The projected deficiencies in free higher education would amount to P4.1 billion. The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) projects that 1.8 million students will avail of free higher education in 2024.

Gatchalian proposed the use of the HEDF because, based on data from the Bureau of Treasury, the accumulated net balance of the fund has totaled P10.167 billion as of May 22, 2022. This is enough to cover the funding gap for free higher education in SUCs for 2024. The HEDF, however, will only cover free higher education deficiencies for fiscal year 2024.

The senator previously emphasized the need to address the looming funding shortfall because it will affect SUCs’ capacity to invest in laboratories, classrooms, and other facilities which, in turn, will affect the quality of education that SUCs deliver.

“Tiniyak natin na para sa taong ito, maiiwasan natin ang kakulangan ng pondo para sa libreng kolehiyo sa ating mga State Universities and Colleges. Mahalagang matiyak natin ang sapat na pondo para sa ating mga SUCs para maipagpatuloy din nila ang paghahatid ng dekalidad na edukasyon para sa ating mga mag-aaral,” said Gatchalian.