For the past few decades, federal funding subsidized the cost of Advanced Placement exams for low-income students. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) may change the amount of the funding available and the distribution process.
ESSA reauthorizes the 50 year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and aggregates various federal programs under one umbrella. The “Advanced Placement Test Fee Program”, suppling $28.5 million annually as the primary source of low-income student AP exam fee subsidies, is now part of ESSA. Since ESSA now consolidates a wide range of programs under a “bloc grant”, states and districts will have hard decisions on funding allocations across those programs, making it unclear on how much assistance low-income students will receive on their AP exam fees this year. Please read EdWeeks Blog article, Will Low-Income Students Have a Harder Time Paying AP and IB Fees Under ESSA, for more details on the changes.
Here are some photos (click to view full size) of resources distributed to AP Coordinators at the pre-conference workshops during the 2016 AP Annual Conference. We have been unable to find these documents on the College Board’s (CB) site.
What’s a School to Do?
- Don’t assume that the 2017 AP exam fee for low-income students will be the same as it has been in the past. There is a high probability that the amount of funding available for subsidies will change and will likely vary by state.
- Conservatively price your 2017 AP Exam Fee for low-income students. The CB has announced that it will continue to offer assistance to the low income student. The 2017 AP exam Fee has been set at $93.00 (for every student). Last year CB supplied a $30.00 fee reduction to the $92.00 exam fee and schools waived their $9.00 portion bringing the exam fee to $53.00 for qualified low-income students. Unfortunately, as of today, nothing has been posted on CB’s web site regarding this year’s fees. An educated guess is that the low-income exam fee will be either $54.00 if CB keeps the reduction the same or $53.00 if CB increases the reduction to $31.00 (last year the reduction increased $1.00 when the exam fee was increased in order keep the low-income exam fee the same as the previous year). The 2017 increase to the base exam fee was announced to a few participants at the pre-conference workshops held during the 2016 AP Annual Conference in Anaheim but has yet to be reported on the CB webpage.
- Contact your state and district for guidance on the low-income student AP exam fee for 2017. Be prepared that guidance may prove difficult during the transition to the new law as the individuals you talk to may not know about the changes caused by ESSA or understand the ramifications. Our guess is there will not be a definitive answer to this question for some time. Thus our recommendation to start with a conservative exam fee for low-income students so the school is not left “holding the bag” if the fee subsidy is less or non-existent this year.
UPDATE 10/11/16: The College Board recently created a web page outlining some of the impacts of ESSA. Please read more at www.collegeboard.org/ap-essa .