THOMASIAN College Assurance Plan (CAP) scholars may now set their cap at tuition settlement after the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 149 approved CAP’s Petition for Rehabilitation last Nov. 8.

The court order mandated CAP to pay its plan holders with fixed value accounts, the exact amount they failed to give this semester by May 2007. Due to lack of funds, traditional plan holders will be given a reduced rate. Reduced rates are based on the actual tuition scholars need to pay that will only be paid in full after 2012.

CAP is also ordered to give plan holders their tuition benefits in two installments annually, the court order said.

“But in order to gather money to pay the plan holders, those who have lapsed plans must also accomplish their payments,” Makati RTC Judge Cesar Untalan wrote in the decision.

CAP scholars with unpaid plans are not entitled to receive any benefit under their plans. The court has given these plan holders two years to pay their plans in full. Plan holders with claims for reimbursement for benefits paid before the second semester of school year 2006 to 2007 will be paid by CAP, based on the reduced rates and not on the actual tuition paid, over a period of five years starting 2007.

In his court order, Untalan emphasized the need to give CAP another chance to re-establish itself for the good of its plan holders. He requested the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to give CAP opportunity to renew its business license after it suspended the pre-need company’s dealer’s license after a report from the Actuarial Society of the Philippines. This internationally recognized organization gives annual reports of the actuarial reserve liability of pre-need companies, showing in 2003 that CAP did not have enough funds in their trust fund to pay its plan holders.

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“It is very difficult to develop and construct, but it is very easy to destroy. Let us go rehabilitate CAP rather than liquidate it,” Untalan said in the court order.

The University ended all agreements with the pre-need company after it failed to support its 3,439 UST scholars. But with a court decision on their side, UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. said he would closely monitor the situation for the Thomasian CAP scholars so that he could formulate a plan to help them.

“We will bring this issue to the University’s advocacy committee,” Arceo told the Varsitarian “The University will see what it can do and will take on necessary measures.”

CAP lead counsel Gilbert Reyes said that their next move is to persuade the SEC to grant them their dealer’s license back which they lost in 2003.

“We will now have to convince SEC to accept the recommendation of the court to issue dealer’s license to CAP,” Reyes said.

But for SEC Commission Secretary Gerard Lukban, rehabilitating CAP is easier said than done. “Even with a court order, there are still a lot of things to be considered,” Lukban said. “CAP should meet the given SEC requirements before issuing them with a dealer’s license.”

“We need to see a proactive regulator. Without a dealer’s license, we will end up with a slow motion liquidation. The rehabilitation plan will fail within a year of implementation without a dealer’s license,” he said.

Presidential assistance

While CAP scholars wait for the reimbursement of their tuition, the University received P2 million last semester from the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Higher Education Loan Program (PGMA-HELP), a government loan program for students prioritizing CAP scholars who have no money to pay tuition.

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Office of Student Affairs (OSA) assistant for scholarship Allan Hernandez said that the program allows students to borrow money equal to the amount of their tuition.

Hernandez said that PGMA-HELP is divided into two types of loans: the short-term loan payable within a period of three months, and the long-term loan payable within a period of five years after graduation. So far, only 10 CAP scholars have applied for the long-term loan and none have applied for the short-term loan.

Hernandez said that the students are required to pay the amount with full interest of six per cent per year within five years after graduation. Students who will fail to pay their dues will be required to sell or transfer ownership of value whose proceeds will serve as payment for their loan, according to a document provided by the OSA.

The loan is only available to third-and fourth-year students who are enrolled in a four-year undergraduate degree and to fourth and fifth-year students who are enrolled in a five-year undergraduate degree.

Interested applicants must submit a certificate of good moral character certified by the College Social Welfare and Development Board Coordinator or Guidance Counselor, a photocopy of registration form, parent’s proof of income, a two-by-two picture, agreement forms from OSA, and a CAP Proof of Award or CAP ID. Also, when a student applies for a loan, he or she must present his or her parents and a University faculty or employee as his or her co-makers who will be accountable in case the student fails to pay his dues.

But former CAP scholar Dionnevell Galona, a senior Legal Management student of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said that the rehabilitation plan of CAP was a desperate move to regain the trust of its customers.

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“I think it’s a little bit too late. I know a lot of people who stopped schooling because the educational plan was the only thing they depended on to finance their college education,” Galona said. Galona was able to use her P12,000 worth of CAP scholarship only until her sophomore year in college. Marc Laurenze C. Celis and K.J. Liu

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