'Tejada wasn't supposed to pay tuition in 2nd sem'
MANILA – For failing to pay her loan and for lack of requirements, University of the Philippines freshman student Kristel Tejada missed the chance to study in UP during the second semester without having to pay tuition.
According to UP Manila public affairs director Anthony Leachon, Tejada was already being placed in the E-2 bracket of the UP’s Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) or with annual family income of P80,000 or less.
University scholars placed under the E-2 bracket no longer have to pay tuition for the second semester.
“Rinebracket na siya sa E-2 which means no tuition fee plus stipend pa but nung January, nakiusap ulit yung father kung sana ma-extend pa dahil hindi na fulfill yung requirement. The problem there is it was already mid-semester. January is mid-sem. There was a request for rebracketing in September but you have to submit requirements. She was not able to,” Leachon told ANC.
Leachon said Tejada was first placed under bracket D of STFAP, which meant she had to pay 300 pesos per unit. He said Tejada initially paid P3,000 for her P12,000 tuition and borrowed the rest from the student loan.
Leachon said Tejada had a balance of P6,377 in her tuition and was given until November 30. The deadline was extended to December 7 and then December 19 before the family was able to pay.
Unfortunately, he noted Tejada was unable to use her re-bracketed status and study for free since her family was unable to pay the loan immediately and submit the requirements in September.
And what were these requirements?
“Photos of the family’s house. Income tax returns kung meron. If not, kahit equivalent. Utility payments like electric bills and water bills. These are just for documentation to approve the process,” he said.
He did not say when Tejada was informed that she was already in the E-2 bracket but said it should have been done after the loan was paid.
Leachon said the Tejada family’s failure to pay for the initial student loan prevented the coed from availing of the re-bracketing.
In a separate interview, Tejada’s father said he had to ask his parents to pawn a piece of property in order to pay for Kristel’s tuition.
Kristel Tejada committed suicide last March 15, just two days after she was forced to file a leave of absence from the university or risk being dropped from the student roster.
Leachon said before the suicide, Tejada was still "sitting in" in her classes even though she was not officially enrolled. He said Tejada was only forced to file for leave of absence because it was already nine weeks into the semester and she was still not enrolled.
“She was advised that since it was nine weeks na into the second semester, she will be dropped out of the roster. That is why she had to file FLOA, on March 13,” he said.
Ironically, Leachon said UP President Alfredo Pascual had met various UP chancellors a day before Tejada's suicide to review the socialized tuition system in the university.
He said that during the meeting, Pascual said no UP student should be deprived of education because of financial constraints.
Leachon said there should be a more permanent solution to the problems besetting the education sector.
"Kristel is not the first or perhaps the last one to be a victim of poverty. I think everyday civil society should partner with government so that Kristel will be the last victim of poverty that is linked to education," he said.
Mornings@ANC, March 18, 2013