Half of UPD freshies under ‘millionaire bracket’

(This report was first published in print in issue 1 of the Philippine Collegian on 14 June  2011.)

by Marjohara Tucay and Keith Richard Mariano


Over half of the incoming freshmen in UP Diliman, or 900 out of an estimated 1,750 first year students were classified under Bracket A of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), and will be paying P1,500 per unit for the current academic year, according to data from the Office of the UP President (OP).

The number of Bracket A freshmen in Diliman recorded this year is over 3,000 percent higher than the total 29 undergraduate students classified in the said bracket last year. The data from OP only covers freshmen already enrolled by June 3.

Students who are classified under Bracket A are assumed to have a gross annual family income of over P1 million. Most of the first year students classified in the highest bracket this semester have “self-declared” their family income, said UP President Alfredo Pascual in a dialogue with student leaders on June 3.


Artwork by RD Aliposa


Meanwhile, only 40 freshmen were classified under brackets E1 and E2 and will be granted free tuition, constituting around 7 percent of the total number of freshmen who applied for the STFAP, based on data posted by the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (see sidebar).

Also, for 2011, only 9 percent or 212 of the 2,265 undergraduate students who applied for STFAP were assigned to the lowest brackets of the Alphabetic Bracketing Scheme (ABS) of the STFAP.

Of the 212 recipients of free tuition, 179 were bracketed under bracket E1, of which 35 students are freshmen. Meanwhile, 33 students were qualified under bracket E2, five of which are freshmen, and are to receive a stipend of P12,000 every semester.

“The data we now have shown how two decades of the implementation of STFAP have increased those who pay more and decrease those who pay less,” Student Regent Ma. Kristina Conti said.

Bracket certification

The sudden surge in the number of Bracket A students may be largely due to the implementation of the new Bracket B certification scheme, added Conti.

A memorandum issued by Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Gisela Concepcion last April 8 required all incoming freshmen and transferees who wish to be classified under Bracket B, which is for students with gross annual income of P500,001 to P1 million, to submit documentary evidence including copies of income tax returns or employment contracts of their parents and a vicinity map of their family residence.

“The change is being made to strengthen a weak rule and ensure the integrity of STFAP implementation…The required submission of supporting documents under the new rule is expected to make students honest about their socio-economic standings,” Pascual said in a statement.

However, Conti explained that the underlying reason for the new rules on bracket certification is to raise revenues being collected from students. “What appears to be happening now is instead of providing assistance to students, STFAP has become a mechanism to charge students with higher tuition rates,” Conti added.

Change in base tuition?

Before the implementation of the Bracket B certification, students who do not apply for socialized tuition pay the base rate of P1,000 per unit, according to the STFAP website. Students only needed to submit a signed document signifying that their family’s income does not exceed P1 million.

However, with the new requirements in place, the administration has seemingly changed the base tuition from P1,000 to P1,500, Conti said.

“The memorandum’s focus on the fulfilment of the new Bracket B certification and additional requirements for classification under Bracket B cannot but be interpreted as a change in the default bracket of the STFAP given the students’ experience with STFAP,” according to the UP Kilos Na Alliance in a statement.

The UP administration denied that the new rules for Bracket B certification have changed the base tuition. In a memorandum released by VPAA Concepcion on June 6, she clarified that “there is no change in the STFAP bracket schedule and there is no tuition fee increase.”

“In fact, there is no such thing as base tuition,” Pascual told student leaders in the dialogue.

“The idea of a base tuition is that’s what you’ll pay if you don’t submit anything to STFAP. With new requirements needed for Bracket B certification, those who don’t bother to submit documents are obliged to pay a higher rate,” Conti explained.

“Sa ganitong sistema, tila inaasahan ng administrasyon ng UP na lahat ng papasok ng bagong estudyante ng UP ay kayang magbayad ng P1,500 kada yunit unless proven otherwise,” said National Union of Students of the Philippines Chair Vanessa Faye Bolibol.

‘Flawed program’

Since the first implementation of the STFAP in 1989, the program aimed to “democratize access” to the university by providing financial assistance and tuition discounts to students.

STFAP utilizes economic indicators such as gross annual income to gauge the income bracket of each applicant. The original bracketing scheme has been twice revised in the past years to adjust the income brackets.

However, based on Collegian data, after over two decades of implementation of the STFAP, the number of UP Diliman students benefiting from free tuition dropped by almost 90 percent.

In 1991, one in every five undergraduate students in Diliman benefited from free tuition under the program. By 2010, only one in every one hundred students is granted free tuition.

“Ang mga ginagamit na indicators ng STFAP ngayon ay hindi na lapat sa konkretong sitwasyon,” Bolibol said.

Abigail Jamias, an incoming freshman, told the Collegian her first experience with the STFAP application process, where she applied for Bracket C and was instead classified as Bracket A. “I am absolutely not fine with my being assessed to Bracket A. I did apply for Bracket C because it is where my family’s income belongs. I applied for an appeal and the whole application process is indeed, laborious,” Jamias said.

During the June 3 dialogue with Pascual, he told the student leaders that the administration will soon be reviewing the STFAP system and revise the flaws on the bracketing procedure.

“Pero anumang pagbabago sa STFAP, hindi nito maitatago ang katotohanang nagamit at patuloy itong ginagamit upang maging justification sa pagtataas ng matrikula. Sa halip na maglaan ng panahon upang lalo pang pahirapin ang proseso ng STFAP, nararapat na mas paigtingin ng pamahalaan ang panawagan nito para sa mas mataas na subsidy,” Bolibol said. ●

Bracket Number of qualified undergraduate students* Number of qualified freshmen

(More than P1 million)

900++** 900**

(P500,001 to P1,000,000)

165 65

(P250,001 to P500,000)

1067 256

(P135,001 to P250,000)

794 174

(P80,001 to 135,000)

179 35

(P80,000 or less)

33 5


*Data obtained from the posted results for the first and second batch of bracketing from the Office of Scholarships and Student Services

**Estimate from the Office of the President. Data does not cover freshmen who enrolled after June 3

Short URL: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/?p=1109

Posted by on Jun 15 2011. Filed under Balita, Featured Story, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

27 Comments for “Half of UPD freshies under ‘millionaire bracket’”

  1. the millionaire bracket kids can afford and pass ateneo…why UP? It seems we’re giving the best education intended for the underprivileged to the elitist and thus helping in ensuring that the gap of the poor and the rich widens even more…

    • alam naman nating lahat na magandang opportunity talaga ang makapag-aral sa UP. hindi naman ito exclusive para sa certain people lang diba? may kalayaan naman ang mga tao kung saan nila gustong mag-aral. i’m just saying..

  2. “the millionaire bracket kids can afford and pass ateneo…why UP?”–Not all millionaire bracket kids can afford to go to Ateneo…what if that student has 10 brothers and sisters and an extended family being provided for by their bread

    “It seems we’re giving the best education intended for the underprivileged to the elitist” –EVERYONE has a right to a good education, that is a basic human right.

  3. This is a very disappointing fact. We are losing a lot from depriving bright minds the opportunity to attend the university that fits them just because they can’t afford it. UP Education must be given to those who deserve it according to HONOR and EXCELLENCE not according to their financial capability!

    • Financial capability is out of the question. Those who really deserve UP education should pass UPCAT and maintain their academic standing throughout their stay in UP. Nagkataon lang na puro mayayaman nakakapasok sa UP kasi maganda elementary at secondary education nila dahil sa magandang school sila pinagaral ng mga magulang nila.

      • That’s not the point. Of course, rich kids who pass the upcat also deserve to be in UP. Because of tuition increase and a flawed bracketing system, yung underprivileged na pumapasa sa UPCAT at magagaling rin like the rich kids ay hindi nakakapasok sa UP.

      • i beg to disagree.. that should be put to question… but on the other side, UP faculty is in the challenge now to transform these kids into the philosophy and dictum of the U.

        • If you put a rich student’s financial capability to question, are you not depriving him/her of their basic right to education as well?

          What I am pointing out is that do not blame the rich students for studying in UP.

          We should rather criticize the flawed system which hinders most students from getting quality education.

          Education is neither for the rich nor poor alone. Education is for EVERYONE.

    • It does not necessarily mean that if you are in the so-called “millionaire bracket,” you already don’t deserve to study in UP. Sorry to say but even rich people can be both HONORABLE AND EXCELLENT.

  4. I don’t think having rich kids in the campus is the main issue here. The main issue here is that our public education is lackluster and this unfortunately results in more underprivileged students to miss the opportunity to qualify for a UP education. Something must be done to change this as bright minds are being deprived starting from their early years.

  5. Iyen Magallanes

    Simple lang yan eh. Yung tuition fee na binabayad, pwedeng ilaan para mabigyan ng scholarship yung mga walang pambayad ng tuition fee. Ang simple simple lang nun.

  6. para sa akin wala problema sa “may kaya” na estudyante ng unibersidad dahil hindi dapat discriminate dahil sa kanilang social class pero deserving naman sila to go to UP. hindi naman nila rin kasalanan na mayaman ang magulang nila. siguro, kasi kung discriminate ang mga “may kaya” at ipagbawal sila sa UP, hindi rin education for all yun. mas ipagbayuhin lang ng UP ang pag recuit at pag supporta sa mga mas nangangailangan. it all boils down kung may sapat na budget ba na nilalaan ang unibersidad at ang gobyerno para sa scholarships and financial aide. sa tingin ko dito rin magagamit ang PPP ni P-noy, more private donors for our scholarship grants kung hindi talaga gusto mag bigay ng mas mataas na budget ang goyerno ni Noynoy.

  7. RA 9500 Section 2: “The State shall promote, foster, nurture and protect the right of ALL CITIZENS (emphasis mine) to accessible quality education. Toward this end, it is the policy of the State to strengthen the University of the Philippines as the national university.”

    RA 9500 SEC. 9. “Democratic Access. – x x x x x

    No student shall be denied admission to the national university by reason solely of age, gender, nationality, religious belief, ECONOMIC STATUS (emphasis mine), ethnicity, physical disability, or political opinion or affiliation.

    The national university recognizes the separation of Church and State. It shall guarantee religious freedom and shall not discriminate on the basis of religion.”

    Eh bakit issue kung marami na ngayon ang mag-aaral na napapabilang sa Bracket A? Eh di ba ang mga nasa Bracket A ang sumasalo sa tuition fee ng mga mag-aaral sa mas mababang bracket? Sino rin ang nagpauso na ang UP ay itinayo para sa mga underpriviliged student? Kung pumasa sa UPCAT eh di tanggapin.

  8. Those who honestly declared themselves as BRACKET A even if it meant going over a few hundreds only fr 1M doesn’t make them millionaires. People wake up!!!! We are talking about GROSS INCOME. In our case our net income would well classify us under bracket C. D or E!!! Do not blame the Bracket A students who enrolled at UP because just like everyone else these kids studied, prepared and passed the UPCAT. And we paid the P1,500/unit which honestly we made sure we set aside for his enrollment. I just had this discussion with my son this weekend as he cannot symphatize with the rallyists. He said, “I was classified as Bracket A but those students in the dorm who classified themselves in the lower income bracket had MacBook for laptops..samantalang ako HP netbook lang.. How ironic!”
    And besides there are several scholarships being offered to financially challenged but well deserving students..Magsipag lang kayo sa paghahanap kesa sa sisihin mga Bracket A students.

    • Does having a Macbook equates already for being a rich kid? Di ba naitanong ng anak nyo baka gift lang sa kanya yun ng rich relative nya etc. Saka baka naman old model na ng MacBook yun. Its not blaming the Bracket A Mom. Its the system po.

      Its better for your son to analyze what the activists are saying. Its up to him to join them or not. I guess being in UP, he must be open to different kinds of theories and its up for him to have a better judgment on those things.

      Besides I just wonder, why being an activist is being demonized compared to a party animal? Sorry try to think about it.

  9. Dear K,
    I don’t see activists as party animals in any way. I am a UP Alumnus too..so are my 3 other siblings. I just dont have to agree with them all the time right? I just resent statements like..Bracket A students shld have gone to ADMU or DLSU so that more less privileged but deserving students could have gone to UP. More than the cost, it’s the quality of UP education that we want our son to have. I really wish the system could have accomodated more deserving students and that more scholarships be made available to them.

    • But look what is happening Mom. More and more rich people entering UP. Of course its practical to be here. Also not the scholarships should be the silver bullet in solving the problems of inaccessibility of UP among poor students. Its the low state subsidy that this government puts to SUC’s. Even from the lips of the President we cant have more of it. Because he is so neo-liberal: making private interests hound the social services. Its not just only a thing of practicality but its a policy that makes our deserving students to just be contented in finding band-aid solutions to a perennial policy of state abandonment to higher education. Try to look at IBON figures etc. Perhaps the answers are there.

  10. May problema talaga dun sa sistema ngayon. Di ko alam kung lahat ng nagbigay ng kanyang opinyon dito ay taga-UP. Wag niyo na isipin na hindi pwede ang mayaman sa UP, isipin niyo na lang yung mga magagaling na taong di nakapasok dahil sa sobrang taas na ng tuition. Ano ba ang nangyayari kapag hindi nakakapasok yung mga ibang nakapasa? Hindi nasasatisfy yung quota, tapos siyempre kahit naman sino gusto magbaka-sakali para sa wait list, kung kaya nila yung tuition, sila yung pupuno dun sa nabakanteng slot nung estudyante. Marami ako kakilala na nakapasa ng upcat pero di makapasok dahil sa taas ng tuition. Kahit dati nung 225 lang, meron parin di makapasok. Wala naman sinisisi na sobrang daming mayayaman ang nakakapasok, ang reklamo naman e bakit ganun kataas yung tuition. Kung pupunta ka sa up ngayon, wala ka naman masyado makikita na pagbabago, tumaas ang tuition pero ano yung naging epekto sa kaledad ng edukasyon? Parang bumaba, hindi mo halos maramdaman yung binayad mo. Nagbayad ka ng 1500 per unit, tapos aircon lang ang nadagdag?

  11. i dont think you need to blame it all on the rich kids. Afterall they are paying the higher amount. the problem is the marginalized students really can’t pay the even if they are on the lower brackets. They should opt for cheaper but quality educating school if they can’t really pay the tuition (like PUP). UP doesn’t mean it’s not for the poor but it strongly says that anyone is accepted as long as one had complete the requirements and tuition fees are one of those things

  12. […] indicating his or her family’s income. Failing to do so would assign a student to Bracket A or a “millionaires” bracket which tuition rates are at P1,500 per unit or P1000 per unit for other […]

  13. […] indicating his or her family’s income. Failing to do so would assign a student to Bracket A or a “millionaires” bracket which tuition rates are at P1,500 per unit or P1000 per unit for other […]

  14. Ang tanong ko lang ay bakit gross income at hindi yung income after tax. At bakit bawal mag-appeal kung under Bracket A na ang ITR dahil lumagpas ng 68k ang gross annual income. E ang dami naming pinag-aaral at ang daming gastos.

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