President Benigno S. Aquino III does a high five with Miriam College High School Grade 11 students during the courtesy call at the Heroes Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (January 07).  (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III does a high five with Miriam College High School Grade 11 students during the courtesy call at the Heroes Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (January 07). (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senator Juan Edgardo Angara on Wednesday urged his colleagues to act on a bill he filed as early as 2013 seeking to grant free college entrance examinations to graduating high school students applying for admission in all state and local colleges and universities in the country.

In a press statement, Angara said considering the rising cost of education, especially college education, more and more high school graduates find it impossible to pursue or continue a college degree because of their limited financial capacity.

“Access to tertiary education for bright and deserving students would be almost impossible especially if their families do not have the means to pay even for an entrance examination, which is the initial step towards admission to any college degree program,” he said.

Senate Bill No. 62 is still pending before the committee on education, arts, and culture.

Under the proposed measure, all state universities and colleges (SUCs), excluding the University of the Philippines, and local colleges and universities (LCUs) are mandated to provide free college entrance examinations to graduating high school students, high school graduates, college entrants and transferees who are applying for college admission.

SB 62 also mandates all private colleges, universities or institutions to provide free entrance examinations to underprivileged public high school students belonging to the top 10 percent of the graduating class and whose families are living below the poverty line.

It further states that any higher education institution official or employee found guilty of violating the provisions of the law will be penalized with imprisonment from six months to six years and a fine of P750,000.

Records from the Commission on Higher Education showed that out of 100 Grade 1 pupils, only 66 finish Grade 6 and only 58 of them enroll in first year high school. Of the 58, only 43 finish high school and only 23 of them enroll in college. And, of the 23, only 14 eventually graduate from college.

Angara said the bill aims to ensure that poor but deserving high school graduates are given equal opportunities in applying for college admission to higher education institutions by removing the first hindrance at the entry level such as the prohibitive cost of entrance examinations. (MNS)