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COA: CHEd overpaid P130 million to 3 public colleges

COA: CHEd overpaid P130 million to 3 public colleges

The Commission on Higher Education overpaid three public colleges for tuition and other school fees by P130.99 million.

This was among the findings of the Commission of Audit on CHEd’s implementation of Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

In a 2021 audit report on CHEd, COA noted that the agency released a total of P31.814 billion to state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs). 

An audit of CHEd’s payments for reimbursements of tuition and other school fees revealed P130.99 million in overpayments to two SUCs and one LUC for the two academic years.

These were Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU), which received P103.894 million; University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP), P9.292 million; and Tagaloan Community College (TCC), P17.804 million.

“There were instances wherein the rate used for a specified fee in the free higher education billings was above the prescribed/fixed rate in the certified tuition and other school fees of a particular HEI,” the audit report noted.

“Overpayments are largely attributable to deficient control mechanism in both the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) and accounting division of CHEd central office to prevent overcharging or detect and capture ineligible fees billed by SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs,” state auditors said.

Even if the UniFAST used a billing checker, CHEd’s billing assistants were “constrained to manually check the free higher education billings of SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs because there were disallowances … which the billing checker failed to detect.”

The UniFAST later discontinued the use of the billing checker because it was not fully developed.

“Consequently, heavy workloads affected the efficiency and effectiveness of the billing assistants in checking the accuracy, consistency and regularity of the free higher education billings,” the audit body said.