There are a handful of financial services in DLSU that undergraduate students can avail of to shoulder their expenses for thesis-making. These expenses do not usually come cheap; a case in point is a May 2017 article by The LaSallian which shows that majority of the respondents spend approximately P4,000 and above for theses and projects.
Common expenses typically include printing and transportation, while students in particular degree programs may need to shell out additional funds for specialized equipment and production-related expenses.
Considering the difficulty of covering these costs and DLSU’s lack of programs to subsidize them, a number of loan programs and grants have been created by the University Student Government (USG). Two of these are the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Sustainable Thesis Grant and the Student Government Loan Program (SGLP) Thesis Loan.
Introducing the CLA Sustainable Thesis Grant
“The CLA Thesis Grant’s fund was officially handed to us by the ever so generous Parents of University Students Organization (PUSO). We had been initially granted with P100,000 as the start-off amount of the fund,” reveals CLA College President Aya Watanabe. The fund will be managed by the Arts College Government’s (ACG) Office of the Executive Treasurer, Research and Development Committee, and college president.
With regards to the rationale for creating the fund, Watanabe explains that different students had shared their thesis-making experiences to the ACG but a particular one stood out. The story that prompted them the most to initiate the fund was about a History major who had to visit La Union every weekend to conduct field studies.
Watanabe adds, “Simply imagining the physical strain of having to travel that far during days when you’re supposed to be resting and having to spend so much money on food and transportation only to write down information was an idea that was just not acceptable. It was only right that we take action to alleviate the burden of this concern to the best of our ability.”
Recipients of the grant will not be required to pay back the amount received, so long as it is used for thesis-related expenses. Given the nature of the grant, it will also remain exclusive to the undergraduate students of CLA. As of press time, however, the requirements and criteria to be accepted for the grant are yet to be discussed between the ACG and different CLA academic departments.
While the grant aims to create sustainable funding for undergraduate theses, Watanabe states that one of its main challenges is sustainability in the long term. For instance, the next CLA College President may choose to discontinue the program. To avoid this, Watanabe plans to institutionalize the grant “to continue the initiative and ensure that the incoming students of the college are provided with the opportunity.” Another solution set forth by Watanabe to ensure the fund’s sustainability is the creation of fundraising programs.
“We recognize that not everyone is as privileged as others and that there will always be students who are in need of assistance in any form,” Watanabe expresses. She believes that as part of the USG, they should lessen the load of students in terms of having all these expenses.
The SGLP Thesis Loan: An Unnoticed Solution
The SGLP Thesis Loan is an interest-free financial initiative offered by the USG to Lasallians who need support for payment of thesis fees. Upon accomplishing the necessary requirements and receiving approval for the loan, a thesis group may receive a maximum amount of P25,000, to be repaid to the Office of the Executive Treasurer on or before a scheduled deadline.
Executive Treasurer Rolf Villon reveals that the funds used for this program are mainly obtained from the Student Government Assistance Fund. He adds, “The money which we allocate to this fund come from different sources – Christmas Bazaar allocations, Valentine’s Bazaar allocations, and sometimes even the University Vision-Mission Week Bazaar”.
The SGLP Thesis Loan is co-managed by Villon and his Chief-of-Staff, together with the Financial Assistance Committee. The program prioritizes loaning out funds to students who deserve it and who meet the main criteria provided in the disseminated Student’s Guide. However, as of date, none have availed of the thesis loan program. Villon cites the insufficiency of publicity and on-ground application opportunities as primary reasons for the lack of applicants availing the benefits of the mentioned loan.
Villon discloses that the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS) plans to improve the loan program through a complete modification of the system. After accumulating feedback and conducting informal discussions, OTREAS is exploring the possibility of changing the program from a loaning system to a grant-based one. Additionally, they are also considering the modification of the existing guidelines and requirements to lessen the burden on the students and hopefully build interest in the program.
“I believe that the financial assistance programs that the USG offers to the students are of big help and importance. The thesis loan, in particular, will really help the students from CLA, COE, and COS – the colleges which have the most expensive thesis costs. Aside from this, the USG also offers programs such as scholarship grants, thesis loans, and allowance grants. All of these are our way of making Lasallian education more accessible to the students,” Villon concludes.