By Camille A. Aguinaldo

SENATE President Aquilino L. Pimentel III on Sunday called for a standardized college admission test for K-12 graduates that would be acceptable to all colleges and universities in order to eliminate the “prohibitive rates” being charged in college entrance exams.

“At present, all students at the grade 6, 10 and 12 levels are given the National Achievement Test. If this is considered insufficient to provide Philippine college admission offices with a means by which to assess applicants, then I encourage our educators to work together to come up with something akin to the United States’ SAT and ACT so that parents need not spend for so many entrance exams,” the Senate leader said in a statement.

Mr. Pimentel said he has received complaints from parents about “prohibitive rates” being charged by colleges and universities on college entrance exams.

He told Philippine educators to coordinate with the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up with the single college admission test so schools would no longer administer their own entrance exams.

“It is understandable for these kids to want to have options when it comes to college, and naturally their parents want to give them the opportunities,” he said.

“But if applying at one school requires a P500 fee, then applying (in) four, five schools can be quite expensive,” he added.

Mr. Pimentel also appealed to college and university officials to consider lowering their entrance examination rates.

For his part, Senator Juan Edgardo F. Angara urged the government to ensure that poor students be given subsidy to cover other school expenses as mandated in Republic Act No. 10931 or the Free Higher Education Act.

“Aside from the free tuition fee and miscellaneous fees, there is an additional financial assistance for the poor to cover expenses for books, transportation, dorm and others,” he said in a statement.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) last Mar. 14 released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the free higher education law.

Mr. Angara said the law created a “tertiary education subsidy” that would provide financial support for poor students in private colleges and university.

Under Section 7 of the law, the subsidy prioritizes students included in Listahanan, the database of the poor in the country by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).