NCEE may return with free college tuition: Diokno

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 04:09 PM

MANILA - A state-administered entrance test for college students may be revived to manage costs from free tuition in state colleges and universities, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers said.

Passing the National College Entrance Examinations was a requirement for high school graduates to advance to college until it was abolished in 1994.

"We plan to have a nationwide exam sometime next year around February or March to screen the number of students," Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

The budget chief said state universities and colleges and local colleges may implement their own admission rules on top of the NCEE. The DBM also advised these institutions to limit their students to the regular number of enrollees.

Free tertiary education in state universities, colleges and TESDA is estimated to cost P50 billion on its first year of implementation or half of the initial P100-billion estimate, the DBM said as the K to 12, or expanded basic education, delayed the full impact of the measure on the budget. 

"We are lucky in a way that there is a natural transition because of K to 12. Next year, there will be only freshmen, no sophomores, juniors and seniors. Year two, no juniors and seniors. Full impact is year 4," Diokno said. 

The DBM estimated that by 2022, when the K-12 transition period ends, the budget for free tertiary education will be somewhere around P70 billion.

Diokno said that apart from tuition and miscellaneous fees, the law also provides for other student expenses like uniform, computer, and a monthly allowance of P3,600.

The law also covers all students of state-funded higher education institutions regardless of their economic standing.

The DBM is discussing with lawmakers how to fund the free college law, but Diokno said earlier that the budget for some agencies might be realigned