Student loans increased dramatically in UP with rising costs of education

Since the tuition in UP increased by 300 percent in 2007, the number of students applying for student loans have also dramatically increased. Recent data from the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) showed that 5,391 students applied for loans in UP Diliman alone during the second semester of school year 2013-2014.

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By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA –After UP Manila student Kristel Tejada’s death last year, UP President Alfredo Pascual declared that “No qualified UP student shall be denied access to education due to financial incapacity.” The UP Board of Regents then issued a policy allowing a student to secure a loan from the university equivalent to 100 percent of the unpaid tuition.

“The University of the Philippines, from among all state universities and colleges in the country, has the most expensive tuition,” said UP Student Regent Krista Mergalejo in an activity commemorating Kristel Tejada’s first year death anniversary. Take for example a student taking 15 units, he or she will have to shell out P22,500 ($501.74) per semester plus additional P2,000 ($44.67) for miscellaneous fees.

Since the tuition in UP increased by 300 percent in 2007, the number of students applying for student loans have also dramatically increased. Recent data from the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) showed that 5,391 students applied for loans in UP Diliman alone during the second semester of school year 2013-2014.

This figure has doubled from the 2,965 students who applied for loans as of the July 2013 report of the Office of Scholarships and Student Services, according to an article published by the Philippine Collegian, UP Diliman’s campus publication.

Even students under STFAP apply for loans

Allan (not his real name), a fourth year Political Science student of UP Manila, said he has been getting student loans since he began studying in UP in 2010. “Even though I fall under Bracket C, we are still having difficulties paying my tuition,” he told Bulatlat.com in an interview. The tuition rate under Bracket C of the STFAP is P600 ($13.40) per unit.

According to data obtained by the Philippine Collegian, prior to the 300 percent increase in tuition in 2007, an average of 1,253 students acquired tuition loans amounting to P6.3 million ($140,714.61) every semester. “The average number of students applying for tuition loans has since increased by 47 percent to 1,836 during regular semesters after that, according to OSSS data.”

According to the article, OSSS data showed that six percent of the student-borrowers have been unable to pay their tuition in the last seven years. “In the previous semester alone (school year 2013-2014), 6.58 percent or 167 of the total 2,539 student-borrowers were cleared of their loans.” It added that during the second semester only 70 out of the total 2,965 students who availed of tuition loans have been able to settle their loans for the said semester.

Even students under STFAP apply for student loans even if their tuition is discounted, the amount of which depends on the bracket they were categorized in. Another article in the Philippine Collegian reported said that in 2012, out of the 3,364 STFAP applicants during the second semester of school year 2011-2012, 2,325 also applied for student tuition loans, citing data from the OSSS.

According to the said article, the amount of student loans granted during the second semester of 2011 was over P20 million ($445,698). For the first semester of school year 2011-2012, granted loans amounted to P28 million ($623,977) and P26.58 million ($592,332) for the second semester.

Student loan as solution to increasing costs of education?

Allan said, “My father’s income as a seaman is only enough to pay for the previous loans we acquired aside from the loans for my sibling’s tuition.”

The situation of Filipino students and the country’s state universities and colleges (SUCs) is headed toward what is happening to tertiary education in the United States of America.

The SUCs in the US also suffered from increasing cutbacks in budget while the cost of education escalated. Thus, the costs of tertiary education became so expensive that students have to acquire loans to pay for their tuition and get jobs for their daily expenses. Thus, when the economic crisis stuck in the year 2000 and again in 2007-2008 and many parents lost their jobs, even students had to declare bankruptcy. Currently, the US is facing a student loan crisis.

An article published in AlterNet revealed that the “highest delinquency rate belongs to student loans amounting to $1.08 trillion.”

“According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report, student loans are higher than credit cards, mortgages and auto loans with 11.5 percent of student loan balances 90 or more days in default,” the article read.

In a book entitled “The student loan swindle: why it happened – who’s to blame – how the victims can be saved?” written by Bill Zimmerman explained how student loans reached the staggering amount of $1.08 trillion. Chapter 3 of the book, “How did college education become so ridiculously expensive?”, which was published by AlterNet explained, “The crisis came because in later years the cost of getting a higher education rose many times faster than the overall cost of living. To make matters worse, wages were stagnant and the real purchasing power of working Americans was in decline.”

Zimmerman said the budget cuts in state colleges and universities resulted to tuition increases. He stated an example. “By 1990, Ohio had already cut back its funding for public higher education. That year the state’s flagship university, Ohio State, received only 25 percent of its budget from the legislature, necessitating another tuition increase. Ten years later, in 2000, state allocations for the school had been reduced to only 15 percent of overall costs. In 2012, Ohio State received a mere 7 percent of its funds from the State of Ohio. Tuition over that interval increased accordingly.”

As 80 percent of American students are enrolled in state universities and colleges, he said, drastic budget cuts that resulted to skyrocketing of tuition have` “directly affected the overwhelming majority of American students.”

“Those three decades also witnessed radically widening disparities between working and middle class families on the one hand and wealthy families on the other. The Economic Policy Institute found that between 1978 and 2011, roughly the same three decades, average CEO salaries increased by 725 percent. Workers’ salaries over the same period increased by less than 6 percent. Taking a longer view, they showed that in 1960 the top 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. collectively made 8.4 percent of the total income generated in the country. Fifty years later, in 2010, the top 1 percent had doubled their take to 17.4 percent of total income.”

“As the purchasing power of working and middle class families declined, college was seen as ever more necessary in the desperate struggle for financial success. But rapidly rising tuition made college less and less affordable. Trapped between their perceived need for an education and their lack of resources with which to pay for it, many families had no choice but to seek larger and larger student loans,” Zimmerman said.

While still by a lesser degree, this is what has been happening to Allan and many Filipino youth struggling to get by with the rising costs of education. Allan said education in SUCs should not only be affordable, “It should be given to the Filipino students for free because it is our right.” He said that student loans do not a help but are a burden. “The administration of UP seems to not know how difficult it is to loan and the burden to pay for it especially when it has interest.”

In earlier interview with Bulatlat.com, Marion Tan, UP Diliman vice chancellor for academic affairs said that granting 100 percent loan to the students is not the solution to the expensive cost of education in UP – a national university. “It should be the government’s responsibility to give Filipino youth a quality education for free. Loan is not the solution to the students’ problems in fin
ancing their education.” ()

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