Too much or never enough? The College Board’s exuberant exam fees

Muyao Guan, Reporter

As much as students might not think of the functionalities of test-taking aside from cram-studying the night before, the College Board still holds much sway in their lives. From Advanced Placement university-level courses to the SAT, the College Board operates many influential academic programs that can affect millions of people, all under the umbrella of non-profit.

But is it truly worth paying the price?

AP exam fees can range from $93 for an average test and to up to $141 for specialized ones. While the College Board does offer fee waivers for low-income students who qualify, the question remains: should a self-described and self-assigned non-profit charge students that much to take one test?

With some ambitious students taking multiple AP tests over the course of their four years of high school, these costs can add up. For those who are poor test-takers, as well as students unable to obtain fee waivers, they may see it as a better financial option to opt out of the exam entirely, despite having spent an entire school year preparing for it.

While this action may be helpful at avoiding the strain of high test fees, it places the question of actually taking an AP exam as a financial one, rather than a question based on academic activities and merit.

On the other side of the aisle, proponents of the College Board’s high fees state that because the tests award college credit for high scores, it’s worth it simply on the basis that it is far cheaper than an average university course. It’s easier and far less expensive to take the AP course in high school and pass the exam rather than to take the course in university, and pay the requisite tuition.

In some school districts, the school district will cover the partial or full cost of the exam. This is posed as either motivation for students to take the exams or to alleviate some of the monetary burden that is personally placed on high school students — most of which remain financially dependent on their parents.

Ultimately, however, the question remains whether it is ethical for the College Board, a non-profit organization whose self-proclaimed goal is to “… demonstrate commitment to access and equity for all students” to charge such high fees on widely taken courses and exams.

The College Board proclaims their intent for education equality, yet their fees inhibit the basic pursuit of education. Their hypocrisy is clear for anyone who had to pay to take the exam as part of their AP course to see.