The Cost of College

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Kita Mo
Kita Mo
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For every university or college in Malaysia or Indonesia, the Philippines is reported to have 10 more. But does this actually translate to greater options for the country’s 1.2 million senior high school graduates? 

Admission exams, degree offerings, scholarships, and distance from residence are all major elements in deciding the next chapter. However, parents and guardians consider tuition the topmost consideration if they don’t want to burn a hole in their pocket. 

This is no surprise, especially with the rising cost of education and the looming tuition increases that parents (or whoever is footing the bill) face every year. In 2017, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved increases in tuition and other fees across 268 private colleges and universities nationwide. According to CHED, the average increase in tuition and school fees was estimated at 6.9% that year.

After looking up the Philippines’ most searched universities in terms of tuition packages, we prepared this guide for parents and incoming college freshmen who are still quite undecided, and who want to get the best education within their budgets.


  • University of Santo Tomas (UST)

With an undergraduate population of more than 31,000, it is no surprise that UST is the most searched university in terms of tuition. 

As of 31 December 2018, CHED designated UST a Center of Excellence in 12 fields: Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Medical Technology or Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Philosophy, Psychology, Teacher Education, and Tourism.

For an aspiring freshie about to take up Psychology in UST, the total fees amount to PhP55,014.00 for 18 units during the first semester. 

Total Fees: PhP55,014.00

Tuition Fees: PhP30,456.00

Regardless of the degree program, each unit in UST costs PhP1,692.00 for SY 2019-2020. This rate is 5% more than the previous year’s. According to the university, 70% of the proceeds from the tuition increase will go to faculty salaries.

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP9,030.00

This includes an athletic fee of PhP2,000.00 and a library fee of PhP4,130.00.

Other Fees: PhP8,856.00

Students pay an energy fee of PhP2,000.00 and an information development fee of PhP1,500.00, in addition to other fees.

Additional Fees: PhP6,672.00

UST students pay PhP750.00 for their P.E. uniform and PhP3,384.00 for their P.E. class.

Students of UST can opt to pay their tuition in installments, which requires them to make a down payment of PhP37,600.00 upon enrolment. There is a PhP1,500.00 installment fee, which is the same amount administered to late enrollees. Meanwhile, all foreign students are required to pay a PhP850.00 out-of-state fee. 


  • Far Eastern University (FEU)

Located in the heart of Manila’s University Belt or U-Belt, FEU is the go-to university for students who wish to take up degrees in Business Administration, Accountancy, Teacher Education, Engineering, and Mass Communication, among others. 

The private, non-sectarian academic institution is a Center of Development for Business Administration and a Center of Excellence for Teacher Education. Here’s how much it costs to take up an in demand Financial Management Track in Business Administration for a semester:

Total Fees: PhP61,749.00 (local student); PhP76,046.50 (foreign student)

On top of the basic fees, foreign students are required to pay a health insurance fee of PhP4,591.00 and an international student fee of PhP5,450.00.

Tuition Fees: PhP1,775.00/unit for SY 2019-2020

Early this year, students staged a silent protest against an impending 5% tuition increase.

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP11,401.00 

This includes an energy fee of PhP1,985.00, a library fee of PhP1,900.00, and a learning management system fee of PhP1,300.00.

Subject Miscellaneous/Semester: 

Students who wish to take up swimming as a P.E. course need to pay PhP2,147.00 for a 36-hour program or PhP3,219.00 for a 54-hour full course.


  • Mapúa University

If you’re looking for a topnotch school in engineering and architecture, Mapúa would be one of your best bets. The private nonsectarian university is named after the first Filipino registered architect, Tomas Mapúa.

With its main campus located within old-world Intramuros and a satellite campus in Makati, Mapúa is flocked by students wanting to take up Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electronics and Computer Engineering, among others. 

Check out the cost of a freshie’s Civil Engineering degree in the Intramuros campus:

Total Fees: PhP36,460.00 (full payment); PhP38,110.00 (installments)

A course in Electronics and Computer Engineering at the same university costs PhP10,000.00 more.

Tuition Fees: PhP1,750.00/unit for SY 2018-2019

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP8,460.00
Other Fees: PhP1,750.00

Those who wish to study in Mapúa should remember that the university follows a quarter system or what they call Quarterm, where the academic year is divided into four terms instead of the usual two. Mapúa students take 4-5 courses and a maximum of 15 units per term.


  • Adamson University (AdU)

Founded in 1932 as the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry, Adamson University is now a Center of Development in the following fields: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Teacher Education. 

The Ermita-based Catholic university has more than 16,000 students and offers preparatory education up to graduate school. 

For an incoming Chemical Engineering freshie this school year, full tuition per semester costs PhP50,121.00 for 26 units and one laboratory subject.

Total Fees: PhP50,121.00 (full payment)

Students are required to pay PhP10,000.00 upon enrolment. They can get a discount if they pay in full on or before the enrolment period. Those who have siblings enrolled in Adamson or who are children of university alumni also get a discount.

Tuition Fees: Approximately PhP1,800.00/unit.

In early 2018, the university was in hot water for announcing an almost P2,700.00 increase in their tuition package.

Other Fees: PhP1,000.00 for a building development fee required for incoming

Engineering freshmen.


  • University of the Philippines – Diliman  (UPD)

Considered the country’s top university, University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD) admits only an average of 4% out of almost 80,000 UPCAT takers yearly. 

Set in a sprawling 493-hectare campus, UPD houses several national centers and institutes and is considered a Center of Excellence in 26 programs, including Anthropology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Foreign Language, Journalism, Metallurgical Engineering, Political Science, and Social Work.

Because it is a public university, UPD implements free tuition under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act signed in 2017. This makes it even more attractive to students hoping to get quality education at minimum cost.

Total Fees: PhP0.00
Tuition Fees: PhP0.00

Prior to the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, UPD students paid tuition according to a socialized bracketing system. The maximum cost wasPhP1,500.00/unit for students in the uppermost bracket, and PhP0.00/unit with allowance for students in the lowermost bracket.

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP0.00

The Act also covers miscellaneous fees related to energy and use of equipment and facilities.

It is important to note that free tuition applies to undergraduate students who have not exceeded the period of stay allocated for their degree programs. Students who go beyond the four-year or five-year term assigned to their courses will fall under the socialized tuition system during the excess semesters.


  • Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)

UPD’s next-door neighbor is also a Big Four university, and is known for its excellence in engineering, business, sciences, and the liberal arts. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, is an alumnus of AdMU.

The university is recognized as a Center of Excellence in 11 programs, including Biology, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, Literature (English), Philosophy, Mathematics, and Sociology. It is also a Center of Development in 6 undergraduate programs.

Many high school graduates long to study in AdMU or “the Ateneo”, but the steep tuition usually holds them back. A semester can cost upwards of PhP95,000.00, depending on the program selected.

Total Fees: Approx. PhP95,000.00

Tuition Fees: Approx. PhP3,500.00/unit

ADMU’s website provides information on tuition from 2017-2018 which amounted to PhP72,305.85.

Miscellaneous Fees: Approx. PhP14,000.00

Data from two years ago shows that ADMU charged PhP13,787.00 in what it calls ‘Basic Fees’.

Other Fees: Approx. PhP13,000.00


  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)

Known for having administered highly accessible tuition at just PhP12.00/unit, PUP also now offers free tuition and miscellaneous fees under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. 

Located in Manila with several satellite campuses across Luzon, PUP has as many as 72,000 students and is deemed as the largest public university in the country.  Some of the popular programs in the university include Chemistry, Mass Communication, Accountancy, and Business Administration.

In 2018, a Jobstreet survey revealed that employers preferred graduates of PUP over graduates of other universities, demonstrating the quality education and training that PUP provides. According to the survey respondents, they appreciate the positive work ethic that most PUP graduates exhibit.

Total Fees: PhP0.00

PUP students paid a total of PhP2,000.00-PhP4,000.00 per semester prior to the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

Tuition Fees: PhP0.00

Before 2017, students paid PhP12.00/unit for regular subjects and PhP40.00/unit for tutorial subjects.

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP0.00

PUP students also paid miscellaneous fees before 2017, with the energy fee taking up the bulk at PhP800.00/semester.


  • De La Salle University – Manila (DLSU)

DLSU completes the Big Four universities in Manila, and is a popular choice for high school graduates hoping to take up careers related to economics, business and engineering. The Catholic university is located along Taft Ave., Manila with campuses in Laguna, Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.

Home to the Green Archers, DLSU has over 16,000 undergraduate students enrolled across its 74 undergraduate programs. It is a designated Center of Excellence in 14 undergraduate programs and a Center of Development in 5 programs. 

In addition to its focus on business and engineering, DLSU is a university of choice for students who wish to take up History, Literature, Political Science, Physics, and Teacher Education.

Total Fees: PhP70,000.00 per trimester

New Student Fees: PhP3,165.00

This includes matriculation, orientation and achievers’ fund fees.

Tuition Fees: PhP3,604.00/unit

Except for students of the College of Education who pay PhP3,021.00/unit per trimester.

Miscellaneous Fees: PhP7,187.00

Special Fees: PhP300.00 (local students); PhP5,300.00 (foreign students)

Laboratory Fees: PhP1,000.00-PhP4,500.00 depending on the subject


  • University of the East (UE)

Information Technology is one of today’s most popular courses due to its relevance in the information age and the availability of jobs with relatively high salary packages. Students who are looking to build a career in IT should look no further than UE, a Center of Excellence in the program.

The autonomous private university is located in Sampaloc, Manila and has three satellite campuses in Caloocan, Quezon City, and Laguna. It has an estimated 35,000 students across all these campuses. In addition to IT majors, UE also has many students in Broadcasting, International Studies, Dentistry, and Education.

Freshies who are considering UE should prepare an average of PhP48,000.00 in tuition per semester of around 24 units. An incoming BS Information Technology student will pay the following:

Total Fees: PhP47,639.50 as of SY 2019-2020

Tuition Fees: PhP1,614.00/unit as of SY 2018-2019

Education majors paid less at PhP1,405.00/unit. Students of Bachelor in Business Management paid more at PhP2,692.00/unit.

Miscellaneous Fees: Approx. PhP8,000.00


Wrap up

Sending a child to college does not only entail tuition costs. It requires budgeting for transportation, field trips, books, food, clothing, and lodging (if needed). There are times when these expenses exceed school fees, and parents have to look for other means to augment their budget. 

At the end of the day, is everything worth it? Most college graduates and their parents would say yes. However, with the evolving landscape of education around the world, the answer might be different sooner than we know it. And that’s another discussion for another day.

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