Bill for free college entrance exams for smart but impoverished students now a law

A bill mandating private higher education institutions to waive college entrance examination fees and charges of students qualified for college admission has lapsed into law on June 14.

Republic Act (RA) 12006, or the Free College Entrance Examinations Act, emphasizes the need to assist disadvantaged students who show potential for academic excellence.

It exempts qualified graduates and graduating students from payment of entrance examination fees administered by private higher education institutions (HEIs).

Under the law, a graduating student will be eligible for the waiver of college entrance exams and charges on five conditions.

First, a graduate or a graduating student must be a natural-born Filipino citizen. Second, the student must belong to the top 10 percent of graduating class.

Third, the student must also belong to a family whose combined household income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Fourth, qualified students are required to apply for college entrance exams to any private higher schools within the country. And fifth, they must satisfy all the requirements of the private school.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is authorized to determine and impose appropriate sanctions against private schools for violating the law.

It is also mandated to promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law within 60 days from its effectivity in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines, or its equivalent institution, will also be consulted for drafting the IRR.

Under the Constitution, the President has 30 days to sign or veto a bill transmitted to his office. A bill lapses into law when the President does not act on it within 30 days.

A copy of the RA 12006 can be accessed in the Official Gazette. It shall take effect immediately following its publication in the Official Gazette, or in two newspapers of general circulation. | PND