A total of $28.4 million in grants have been handed out to 38 states by the Department of Education in an effort to offer low-income students the ability to take Advanced Placement exams to boost their readiness for college and career life.
Schools that received the grant money will now be able to offer the AP exams to students at a reduced rate of $12, totaling a savings of as much as $29 per exam. Individual states may decide to ask students to pay a portion of that cost.
"These grants are a smart investment in equity and a way to eliminate barriers for low-income students, level the playing field and allow more students to access the college-level critical thinking and reasoning skills taught in AP courses," John King, U.S. Department of Education, said in a statement. "These grants are a smart investment in equity and a way to eliminate barriers for low-income students, level the playing field and allow more students to access the college-level critical thinking and reasoning skills taught in AP courses."
How much each state received was determined by estimations of how many tests would be administered in each state to low-income students. The grant program, in its second year, has already proved effective at enrolling more low-income students into AP courses. Prior to the start of the program, 768,772 low-income students were enrolled in such courses, compared to 831,913 students the following year. States that received the grant money saw an increase of 7% in low-income student participation during the 2014-15 school year in AP testing.
AP courses offer participating students the opportunity to receive college credit while still in high school. This allows students to save time and money once they enter college, thereby better preparing them for college and life beyond. The program hopes that by lowering the cost associated with taking these exams, more low-income students will become interested in participating.
The grant money comes as part of the Obama Administration's My Brother's Keeper Task Force, which hopes to offer equal opportunity to low-income students across the United States.
"The Obama Administration's commitment to equity in education underlies nearly every significant activity of the Education Department—from programs focused on early learning to college affordability and tools for reducing student debtâ¦By expanding access to college-level courses, more low-income students are able to graduate high school with the tools they need to excel in college and beyond," said Knoe.com.