Senate approves bill waiving college entrance exam fees for qualified students

Senate approves bill waiving college entrance exam fees for qualified students
High school students wait for their time in front Marikina High School in Marikina on November 2, 2022.
STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Qualified students applying for admission to private colleges and universities will no longer be required to pay for entrance exam fees under a new Senate bill greenlighted on final reading.

Senate Bill 2441 — unanimously approved on Monday — waives all college admission fees for college applicants from the top 10% of their graduating batch who fall below the poverty threshold.

To be exempted from paying admission fees in private colleges and universities, graduating high school students must have the following requirements:

  • Part of the top 10% of their graduating class
  • Belongs to a family whose combined household income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority or cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide for their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing and other essential amenities of life duly certified as such by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
  • Must apply for college entrance examination to any private HEI within the country
  • Must satisfy all other requirements as specified by the private HEI concerned

Under the proposed law, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) would be able to impose penalties against private higher education institutions (HEIs) that will fail or refuse to comply with the guidelines.

The measure is aimed at benefiting “disadvantaged graduates or graduating students who show potential for academic excellence,” as noted by Sen. Chiz Escudero, chairperson of the Senate higher, technical and vocational education panel.

"This free exam can be a recruiting tool aimed at the best and the brightest," Escudero added.

Since the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act in 2018, there has been a noticeable shift in the distribution of enrollment in private and public colleges and universities, according to CHED.

The ratio used to be 70-30 in favor of private schools, but currently, more than 50% of students flock to SUCs, CHED Chairperson Popoy De Vera said in August.

This is even as private schools outnumber public colleges and universities sevenfold: there are 1,729 private universities compared to 112 SUCs and 121 local colleges and universities, as of 2019 CHED data. — Cristina Chi

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