How Much Do You Need to Fund Your Child's College Education?


Many graduating senior high school students may have started reviewing for college entrance exams. This season is equally stressful for parents, like you, who are tasked to prepare for incoming college fees. Are your current savings enough? How much do you need to fund your child’s college education?

Are you looking to send your child to top universities in the Philippines?

Last year’s implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or Republic Act 10931 in numerous state/local universities and colleges (SUC’s/LUC's) in the Philippines instantly opens more choices for both parent and student vying for tertiary education. SUC’s are the best option when your budget poses a limit to your choice of course and college.

The University of the Philippines (UP) is the most popular option with a generous distribution of campuses throughout the country, and high rankings in international university reviews. With the recent law, UP is more accessible than ever.


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College students typically spend an average of Php250 per day on food, transport and other school expenses like projects.


This increases the demand for the university while the capacity remains the same, and some students may not be able to enroll in their chosen course or campus. If you’re willing to adjust your budget to accommodate your preferences, then you may opt to enroll in private universities.

While these universities are surely more expensive than a state college nearby, no need to worry as students may be granted financial assistance through a combination of scholarships. Note that DLSU’s academic year is trimestral, which explains the higher cost compared to most schools. Usually, a trimestral study plan renders a student one year less from a semestral plan.

The table below shows the approximate cost of education in the aforementioned universities ranked in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019:

University (rank)

Annual Tuition Fee[2] in pesos (as of 2018)*

University of the Philippines (72)


Ateneo de Manila University (115)

160,000 – 180,000

De la Salle University (155)

205,000 – 225,000

University of Santo Tomas (165)

90,000 – 110,000

*the specific amount is decided by the number of units taken annually
**considering your child qualifies for RA 10931, check sections 4-6 [3]

Even with free tuition in UP, a student can still avail financial assistance with a Php3,500 monthly stipend. Most universities have funded scholarships from various private foundations around the country, each with different requirements and corresponding benefits. Some public scholarships are as follows. Science and Technology students are also encouraged to take the Department of Science and Technology’s scholarship exam to be rewarded a roughly Php35,000 per semester as a stipend, excluding book and travel allowance.

The Department of Health also introduced a scholarship for financially-challenged aspiring doctors, which includes roughly Php62,000 per semester, given a careful distribution over possible expenses. A combination of one public and multiple private scholarships are allowed in most universities. This should be able to shoulder part of your university expenses.

Tuition fee increases exponentially

Since the information above was from last academic year, expect an average of 10% increase on tuition fee this year, every succeeding year. If you’re planning early for your 10-year old child, multiply the current tuition by 1.10 (indicating a 10% raise to existent amount) raised to the number of years before college. By the time they’re 18, you would need a maximum of Php482,308 to send them to freshman year in DLSU. In their graduating year, assuming a 4-year course, you would be paying DLSU P706,147.

Certain courses may be more expensive than others

The specific tuition fee for each university is better determined once you choose a course and the corresponding study plan. The cost differences between undergraduate degrees are most noticeable in the latter part of sophomore year. For art-related courses, art supplies add up to the cost of training. Humanities and business courses may require students to undergo fieldwork or immersion projects and training outside school. For science and engineering fields, the price of research facilities when off-campus or not funded by the school are very steep, though this is not much of an issue for top universities in the country that can provide said facilities with private or government funding.

Most engineering and some science courses take 5 years to complete compared to 4 years in arts, business, humanities, etc. Some courses are available as certificate courses which take only two years. UP Manila’s Intarmed program lasts 7 years if your child aims to be a doctor without taking a pre-medical degree. Multiply the annually-increasing tuition fee by the number of years in college to roughly estimate the total expense on tuition.

Wait, what about living expenses?

Are you ready to add what goes to living expenses, especially if you plan to send your child away from home?

Two of the top four universities in the country are practically neighbors in Diliman, Quezon City, and the other two are in Manila. There exists dormitories whether inside the campus or at least accredited by the university. Assuming UP dormitories offer the cheapest lodging, prepare to spend Php250-500 a month, excluding electric bill, but including water fee, and internet connection. These dormitories are limited to students who gain the highest points based on the administration's evaluation of family income and distance from home.


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Other dormitories, which has better facilities, even cater to international students and cost Php1,500 or Php3,000 per month for lodging alone. Outside UP, boarding houses and dormitories cater to students from UP, ADMU, and Miriam College as well as workers for nearby establishments. You’re lucky if you find a bed space that costs Php1,000 monthly, excluding water and electricity, possible even internet connection. Prices can hike up to Php7,000 a month in high-rise dormitories along Katipunan Ave. Of course, this comes with additional facilities and residence security.

While some dormitories provide food with an additional amount, for most students, Php100-200 a day is just enough to cover three meals they were used to at home. That means you’ll be spending an additional maximum of Php72,800 annually on their food only. Other supplies such as toiletries and other perishables may add to this cost. Many students go home to their provinces on long weekends. Additional expenses due to travel vary depending on how far the university is from home.


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Bottom line:

With all the college expenses piling up, no wonder parents expect highly of their children studying in the metro. It is indeed taxing and overwhelming to plan a child’s education, especially if you’re saving late. You still have a few months before UPCAT in September this year, and most entrance exams in February-April next year. If you haven’t started saving yet, or are far from the target budget, you may want to consider other cash sources such as a personal loan or credit card. Explore and compare your options through GoBear.

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