Aquino approves P11.2B educational assistance for SSS, GSIS members

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III ordered on Tuesday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to provide P11.2 billion educational assistance for members of the state-run pension funds.

In a speech during his breakfast meeting with the labor groups in Malacanang, the Chief Executive said that parents would no longer borrow from "5-6" since an Educational Assistance Fund Program (EAFP) will be implemented through the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS).

"Ngayon po hindi na kailangang kumapit sa 5-6 ang mga kuwalipikadong miyembro para mapag-aral ang kanilang mga anak (Parents who are qualified members need not borrow from loan sharks to send their children to school)," he said.

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, in a separate statement, said that EAFP will allow 200,000 SSS members and 1.4 million GSIS members to receive funding assistance for four-year degree programs and technical/vocational courses.

"The Aquino administration understands that higher education is vital in strengthening the country's work force. The P11.2 billion should help ease the financial burden for SSS and GSIS members who want to obtain their degrees or finish tertiary schooling," Abad said.

"The EAFP will also allow member-beneficiaries to develop talents essential to the workplace, as well as gain professional leverage in an increasingly competitive job market," he added.

Of the P11.2 billion set for the program, P5 billion will be provided by the DBM, an amount certified by the Bureau of Treasury as part of the excess dividend collections remitted by government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs). In addition to the government's P5-billion subsidy, the GSIS and SSS will provide P6.2 billion in counterpart funding.

Under the EAFP, P4.2 billion will go to GSIS members, while P7 billion will be allotted to SSS. GSIS will extend a P4,000 loan amount at six percent interest payable over a five-year period for all beneficiaries.

Under the SSS education assistance package, a member could loan up to P120,000 to support a four-year degree course or P15,000 per semester with six percent interest rate payable in five years. Repayment period will start one year after graduation. For technical or vocational course, an SSS member could borrow up to P30,000 or P7,500 per semester with 6 percent interest rate and payable in three years.

Abad clarified that only SSS members with a monthly salary of P10,000 or less can avail of the educational assistance initiative. However, all active GSIS members will be covered by the EAFP, regardless of monthly salary level.

"The DBM will be releasing the implementing guidelines for the use and purpose of this fund, together with the Department of Finance, GSIS, and SSS. If the EAFP will eventually be adopted by the GSIS and SSS, succeeding funding requirements may be set for it in the General Appropriations Act," Abad said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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