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Pandemic-hit students burdened by tuition down payment hike

photo by ELIJAH JOHN M. ENCINAS

WHEN INCOMING Behavioral Science student Alyana Galang decided to enroll in the University, she already knew that her education would carry a hefty price tag.

However, Galang, whose parents were among the millions who were not able to work during the first weeks of the quarantine, was still surprised upon learning that she had to pay about half of her tuition to secure an enrollment slot.

“I was expecting that it [would] be that pricey, considering that it is a private school, but it still surprised me that we have to pay almost half of my tuition fee for the whole academic year immediately. I was also worried that I would lose my slot since we cannot afford such an amount in one week,” Galang told The Flame in an online interview.

Galang is one of the incoming first year students who felt the impact of the University’s decision to increase the down payment for this year’s tuition installment scheme.

The higher down payment was meant to prevent delays in the payment of the salaries of the faculty and support staff, Central Student Council President Krizia Bricio told The Varsitarian in a recent interview.

The Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) initially required a down payment for freshmen that was half the student’s total assessed fees, ranging from P19,100 to P25,500. The down payment was subsequently reduced to P15,000 for all year levels, but is still higher than the previous academic year which ranged from P5,000 to P10,000.

Galang paid P22,000 down payment last May to be officially enrolled yet, according to her, the amount was still burdensome.

“‘Yung pera na panggastos namin sa iba pang need dito sa bahay ay nabuhos na sa downpayment at sa susunod na babayaran

(The money intended for our other household needs went to the down payment and other fees),” Galang added.

Galang’s mother also needed to borrow money from her employer to shell out the required amount.

Too much?

Asian Studies junior Karen Yu, who also opted to pay tuition via installment, said the required down payment was “too much to handle” because of the pandemic.

“Since many of the parents will have [fewer] jobs and [salaries] this pandemic, giving out P15,000 in one go will also affect the daily cost of living for the family,” Yu said.

Unlike Galang and Yu, journalism senior Ariane Baustista was able to pay in full because of her parents’ discipline in handling finances. However, she still found the higher down payment unnecessary.

“I see no viable reason as to why the university made such [a] decision. It’s not like the students go to school and make a mess of things, or basically make use and wear out university property,” Bautista said.

While not greatly affected by financial hardships, Bautista said she could witness other people experiencing difficulties as they try to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the University announced that it won’t increase the tuition and would temporarily suspend miscellaneous and other fees for this year to help students with enrollment-related concerns. 

Financial woes

Yu’s mother said the University should consider lowering the down payment to P10,000 or make enrollment-related announcements earlier to give families more time to prepare.

Nagulat ako sa laki ng down payment na kailangan agad bayaran kundi mawawala ‘yung slot ng anak ko. Pero sa magandang eskwelahan naman mapupunta anak ko, kaya kahit mahirap [okay] lang,” (I was shocked by the high down payment that I have to pay otherwise my daughter would lose her slot. But it’s a good school so it’s okay),” Galang’s mother said.

Adora Bautista, mother of Ariane, said her family would be scouring for funds if they had not allotted a bank account solely for her education.

“UST is a good university with impeccable graduates, it would explain their high rates, but still, students ask for a little consideration when it comes to achieving the education that they deserve at an affordable and reasonable (price),” the elder Bautista said.

“Studying is hard as it is, let us not [allow] the financial factors [to] affect the difficulty of it entirely,” she added.

The enrollment schedule in AB is extended until Aug. 25. F — J. Moises and M. Jucom

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