Last June, the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS) of the University Student Government (USG) held a signing for the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with De La Salle University Science Foundation, Inc. to launch the Financial Assistance Hub. The signing between USG Executive Treasurer Rolf Villon and De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) President Br. Armin Luistro FSC was held at the USG Office, 3rd Floor Br. Connon Hall.
In support of the event, DLSU President Br. Ray Suplido FSC, Office of Student Affairs Dean Nelca Villarin, Student Media Office (SMO) Director David Leaño, and USG President Mikee De Vega were present in the said affair.
Dissecting the Financial Assistance Hub
The Financial Assistance Hub encapsulates several assistance packages to be made available to Lasallians depending on their current financial incapacities.
A few of these packages are initiatives of the USG, which will be folded into the Hub for convenience of the potential beneficiaries. The centerpiece of these packages is the Lasallian Scholarship Program (LSP) which aims to provide scholarship opportunities for deserving Lasallian students who are in need of financial assistance.
The Student Government Allowance Program (SGAP), an initiative that has been funded and run under the auspices of the USG, aims to provide an allowance to deserving Lasallians to cover for their non-tuition academic and non-academic expenses.
Subsidized Student Services (SSS), aims to lower the indirect costs that are usually incurred by Lasallian students. The subsidy covers services like printing, photocopying and also parking spaces in the Enrique Razon Sports Center.
Also to be introduced by the Hub is the Emergency Fund. This special fund aims to help Lasallians who are in need of immediate financial assistance due to cases such as fortuitous events that lead to their sudden inability to fund their academic expenses.
To help students in funding their thesis-related expenses, the Financial Assistance Hub also includes the Student Government Thesis Fund, available to Lasallian students who are in need of financing their thesis requirements.
Finally, is the Meal Allowance Program, which aims to address the recurring problem of students not being able to afford meals and go hungry on school days. This program aims to benefit students who are financially in need by shouldering the costs of meals in the campus.
Behind the launching
According to Luistro, the start of the program was never really determined or formalized, even when it was handled by the DLSU Science Foundation, Inc. It was disclosed in an interview with the DLSP President that in the beginning of the project, students on their own would approach the said foundation in hopes of being offered financial assistance and scholarship grants.
In the context of having a system for applications, ‘[The process] was really erratic and we didn’t have much data [as to] what are the real needs; it really depended on how they could access the service and know somebody [to contact],” said Luistro. He also added that most of the scholarships granted were to assist upperclassmen and graduating students who may have lost their scholarships, or needed grants for their last terms in the University.
Meanwhile, Villon also mentions that he hopes that the initiatives of the program, namely helping Lasallians, would stand to the program’s launching. “After today, we hope that our initiatives will be able to help more Lasallians under this program, resources or scholarships, thesis grants, meal allowances, and other possible assistance for students will be offered,” he shares. “We hope to continue, we hope to contribute, to making everyday a little less difficult to many of our fellow Lasallians,” he expresses.
Changes in the project
The goal of the launch was to consolidate the efforts of all previous executive treasurers, and as well create a proper system for facilitating the grants. “This is the first time that we are establishing it, so what I really wanted was to make sure that there is a process that accompanies the implementation of the program,” stated Luistro.
Luistro also highlighted the need to retrieve and interpret the data on what the needs of the students are. “How many are they? Are there patterns? We’re guessing [if] there really are students who go hungry, and what the reasons are for this,” he expounded. To add, he cited that the launching of the program had an objective as well to crowdsource data to be gathered.
While in talks, Luistro tasked Villon to provide an avenue to address the aforementioned concerns, and to implement a program to resolve them. “I’m sure the students themselves will be willing to help, diba, but those who may need help may not be courageous enough, or comfortable enough to ask for help,” Luistro pointed out.
Closing the event, Villon emphasized on the opportunity of being able to represent the pioneering student leaders’ initiatives to raise funds to provide for students in need. In his closing statement, the OTREAS head expressed his plan to conduct a formal turnover of the said responsibility to the next elected executive treasurer, and promised to “continue to commit [to] serving the student body.”