CHED: Free tuition for medical students in state universities and colleges starting 2017

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 16) — Ever dreamed of becoming a doctor, but can't afford the skyrocketing cost of a medical degree?

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said in a June 16 statement that incoming and currently enrolled students in public medical schools can study for free through the Cash Grants to Medical Students Enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (CGMS-SUCs) beginning academic year 2017-2018.

CHED Commissioner Prospero De Vera said CHED and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) finalized the implementing rules and regulations of the ₱317.1-million student financial assistance fund in the 2017 budget.

"The initiative is a response to the continuing lack of doctors in the country caused by the high cost of medical education, overseas migration and brain drain," he said. "The Duterte administration wants to solve this problem by subsidizing the tuition of medical students and facilitating their residency and practice in the different parts of the country."

The fund will be divided among eight SUCs:

University of Northern Philippines

Mariano Marcos State University

Cagayan State University

Bicol University

West Visayas State University

University of the Philippines-Leyte

Mindanao State University

University of the Philippines-Manila

To qualify for the assistance fund, a student must meet the following requirements.

1. Pass the admission requirements of the SUC

2. Enroll in an authorized Doctor of Medicine program of the SUC

3. Maintain a general weighted average of at least a passing grade

4. Carry a regular academic load and complete the degree within the period allowed in the university

De Vera said student-grantees will also have to render one year of service in the country for every year of cash grant received as part of their public service responsibility.

This is to make sure that students stay and serve in the country after graduation in exchange for the public subsidy given for their education.

In April 2017, CHED and DBM released a joint memorandum circular that allocated P8 billion to subsidize the tuition of all undergraduate students in the more than 100 SUCs in the country.

Meanwhile, the bicameral conference committee approved last May the report on a bill that seeks to provide free education in all SUCs.

Once the bill is ratified by the House of Representatives and the Senate, it will be given to President Rodrigo Duterte for his approval.