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The cost to take an AP exam will go from $5 or $15 to $53.

Some low-income students in California could face a steep fee increase for Advanced Placement exams this spring following the elimination of a federal subsidy.

The cost for each AP exam for these students could climb from $5 or $15 to $53 because of a provision in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that eliminated the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program.

Last year, the national program provided $28 million to states to help subsidize the cost of AP exams for low-income students.

Last spring, about 133,800 California students who took at least one AP exam received a fee reduction, according to the College Board, which publishes the exams.

“It’s disappointing to see the disappearance of this dedicated funding stream,” said Scott Hill, vice president for the Western Regional Office of the College Board.

States can still use some of  a federal block grant, Title IV Part A, to cover the AP exam fees for low-income students, but it’s not a requirement. School districts can also use their Title I funds, the federal government’s primary source of money for schools with high numbers of low-income students. But the exam fees would have to compete with other Title I funding priorities.

So far, California has not set aside dedicated funds for AP exam subsidies. March 24 is the deadline for schools to order AP exams.

“The uncertainty is hurting a lot of students and a lot of schools,” Hill said.

The full price for each AP exam remains unchanged at $93. Low-income students are still eligible for a $40 waiver from the College Board and a waiver of processing fees to bring the per exam cost down to $53.

“It’s disappointing to see the disappearance of this dedicated funding stream,” said Scott Hill, vice president for the Western Regional Office of the College Board.

At least two dozen California districts, including Oakland Unified, San Jose Unified and Long Beach Unified, have vowed to cover the entire or most of the cost for AP exams for all test-takers, not just low-income students. Many of these districts also cover fees for SAT exams as part of an effort to prepare more students for college.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, has decided to cover the loss of the federal subsidy, so the district’s low-income students would still pay just $5 per exam, said Arzie Galvez, director of advanced learning options for the division of instruction.

These districts have used a combination of federal and state grants, including the California College Readiness Block Grant, a $200 million program created to help districts increase the number of college-ready students.

Hill said the College Board is working with other districts across the state to determine what funding is available to cover AP exam costs.

Still, most districts in California haven’t yet committed to allocating the extra money to offset the AP exam fee increase for low-income students, leaving some educators worried that many students might skip out on the tests.

Many students take more than one AP exam each year, so even if they’re paying $53 per test, the money quickly adds up, counselors have said.

Meanwhile, Cassandra Sosa, a junior at Millikan High in Long Beach Unified, said having her district cover all her AP exam fees means she can focus on studying for her two tests later this spring instead of worrying about saving money to pay the fees.

“The exams are tough enough as it is,” she said. “Now I can save more for college.”

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  1. Greg Geeting 1 week ago1 week ago

    In response to my questions, here is information supplied by the Governmental Relations Office of the California School Boards Association: "Title I, Part G, Advance Placement Exam Fee Program, was one of the numerous programs eliminated with the adoption of ESSA. However, even though the specific program was eliminated, ESSA does provide States and LEAs with flexibility to support students taking AP and IB exams. LEAs and States may use Title IV or … Read More

    In response to my questions, here is information supplied by the Governmental Relations Office of the California School Boards Association: “Title I, Part G, Advance Placement Exam Fee Program, was one of the numerous programs eliminated with the adoption of ESSA. However, even though the specific program was eliminated, ESSA does provide States and LEAs with flexibility to support students taking AP and IB exams. LEAs and States may use Title IV or Title I funds to cover the exam fees for low income students, and they may collaborate with local foundations, agencies, or partnership groups to help offset the fees. Title IX funds may be used to support homeless students to take AP and IB exams.” Also, in response to the questions from Boyer P. Auggust, I recall checking out this AP Exam fee issue some time ago, and the key is that taking the AP Exam is not a requirement for taking an AP course. A student may receive credit for the course without taking the exam, thus the exam fee is permitted.

  2. Boyer P. Auggust 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Dear Fermin, Questions: 1. Is charging students a fee to take Advance Placement examinations legal? 2. I have, what I think, is a 2012 or 2013 summary that says fees for Advance Placement examinations are illegal: a. If taking the Advanced Placement Exam is a course requirement or b. If the exam results have an impact on a student’s grade or credit in the course. However, I have lost the legal citation which supports these statements. 3. Do you have any citations that validate the above … Read More

    Dear Fermin,

    Questions:

    1. Is charging students a fee to take Advance Placement examinations legal?

    2. I have, what I think, is a 2012 or 2013 summary that says fees for Advance Placement examinations are illegal:

    a. If taking the Advanced Placement Exam is a course requirement or

    b. If the exam results have an impact on a student’s grade or credit in the course.

    However, I have lost the legal citation which supports these statements.

    3. Do you have any citations that validate the above statements?

    4. Do the following citations support the idea that charging students a fee to take Advance Placement Examinations is illegal?

    a. 1874 California Supreme Court decision establishing a free public school system.

    In 1874, the California Supreme Court held that Students are entitled, under the California Constitution, “to be educated at the public expense” and that all fees are prohibited in the public school system.

    California Supreme Court: Ward vs. Flood, 48 Cal. 36, 1874

    b. Student fees, deposits or any other charges are prohibited unless specifically authorized by law.

    “A pupil enrolled in a school shall not be required to pay any fee, deposit or other charge not specifically authorized by law.”

    California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Sec. 350 Reg. 77, # 39, State Board Reg. 1979

    c. Waivers Are Illegal

    The California Supreme Court held that the “imposition of fees for educational activities offered by public high school districts violates the free school guarantee. The constitutional defect in such fees can neither be corrected by providing waivers to indigent students nor justified by pleading financial hardship.” – Hartzell vs. Connell, 35 C. 3d 899, Cal. Sup. Ct., 1984 E. C. 49011, b. 2.

  3. Greg Geeting 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    What was the context for the elimination of the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program in ESSA? Why did congressional Democrats and President Obama approve the elimination?