Committed to its mission in providing opportunities for Lasallians from all walks of life, the University continues to administer aid and financial assistance to needing but competent students in both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Various scholarship grants, tuition discounts, and student loans are offered by the Office of the Admissions and Scholarships (OAS) to make Lasallian education attainable.
In support of this goal, the University Student Government (USG) has also commenced projects of its own which aim to support students who need financial assistance. Beyond the student tuition and miscellaneous fees upon enrollment, students also attend to additional financial expenses as part of their academic and non-academic requirements. With this, the USG implemented the Student Government Allowance Program (SGAP) among others.
Rationale and proponents behind the program
The SGAP was implemented in line with the USG’s main goal to “intensify student representation”. According to Financial Assistance Chairpersons Jannah Sandico and Carlo Flauta, the SGAP seeks to “reach out to people who are in dire need of financial assistance, providing allowance for everyday use,” as one of the many initiatives executed by the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS). Sandico also points out how the help is extended in the form of food and transportation allowance with a fixed amount of 500 pesos a week.
It is a fairly new program as it was only implemented during the previous academic year, but preparations were conducted prior to its enforcement. “Groundworks of SGAP were done during Zed Laqui’s time as Executive Treasurer with Mark Tionson as Chief of Staff,” Sandico explains. “However, the actual lobbying and execution of the program was during Brian Chen’s term as Executive Treasurer together with Patricia Muyco and was implemented by Pete Fernandez as chairpersons for Financial Assistance,” she adds.
How the system works
As a project that intends to supply financial support to students, its source of fund is an essential element to its operation. Activities that lobby for the entire student body’s development were conducted throughout the year. “Proceeds from these activities are generated as financial resources to fund the initiatives of the Office of the Executive Treasurer of the USG, the SGAP being one of them,” Flauta details. He also mentions that some of these activities are the USG Sportsfest and various bazaars.
Generating enough resources for SGAP was not much of a financial complication for the USG. However, the problem that they encountered was constitutional. Flauta discloses, “[It was] more of an internal setback with regards to the processes of the activities that generate the financial resources to fund programs like the SGAP.”
As the program was only enforced recently, the matter of regularization is still at hand. Sandico further expounds, “SGAP is currently three terms old. In order for a program to be institutionalized, it has to be implemented for three consecutive years. There is an existing Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the OAS and SLIFE regarding about its ten term validity.” She points out that it is only then that SGAP will be a regularized program.
Unlike scholarship and allowance programs offered by the University, the SGAP is less stringent when it comes to qualifications. Applicants only need to observe two requirements in order to qualify. The first one states that the student’s annual family income must be less than P700,000. The other requirement entails that the student must not be an existing beneficiary of other allowance programs of the University.
Sandico also stresses that the SGAP is similar to some offered programs by the University such as the Athlete Scholarship Program, Gokongwei Scholarship Program, and Star Scholar Program wherein allowance is also given to the respective grantees for each term. The difference between these programs and the SGAP lies on how it is more accessible since students don’t have to attain a certain grade to receive the allowance.
In achieving its goals
The SGAP’s primary goal is to administer financial support to Lasallians who are in need through food and transportation allowance. Bernette Cuevas (III, BS-LGL), a previous grantee, attests to how beneficial SGAP was particularly in attending to her org-related expenses. “Being active in orgs, there’s really a lot of expenses. I saw SGAP as an opportunity that would help me provide for such expenses,” she acclaims.
It was the same case with Arielle Ong (III, BS-LGL), also a previous beneficiary. She shares, “I have classes from morning to night, and I have to commute to and from school. Coming from a not-so well-off family, having extra money for dinner or emergencies is super helpful. Without having to ask my parents was helpful.”
Room for improvement
As of the moment, the USG has no future plans to change the SGAP and its processes. However, suggestions to make the operation of the program more effective and beneficial were made. Ong hopes that allowance would be released according to schedule. “Some of the checks were released after the term ended,” she says.
Cuevas also expresses the same sentiments concerning the delay in the issuance of checks. “Though there were problems when it came to the distribution of the checks, but as far as I know, it was a problem on the part of the accounting office that caused the delays.” She also suggests, “What they can do is constantly update the students on what is happening or inform the grantees when the checks will possibly be issued.”