In December 2011, Congress cut funding for the Advanced Placement programs from $43 million to $29 million. These programs funded fee waivers for students from low-income families who were hoping to save thousands in college tuition by passing the exams they had spent all year studying for.
Last year, 375,439 low-income students nationwide took 615,315 exams. At least six states — Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas — will use state funds to offset the reduction in federal funding, leaving students there unaffected.
Others — Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, New Mexico, New York City and Washington, D.C.— plan on at least partly covering the fees for students.
In California, 91,009 students from low-income families took 160,605 exams. Schools and districts which are part of a state program which provides additional funds for AP fees will only face a $5 fee per exam for the first three they wish to take, while those in non-qualifying districts, and those in other states not offsetting the funding, will have to pay $15 per exam for the first three exams. All subsidized students will have to pay $53 per exam for any beyond the first three. The normal cost of the exams is $87.
While the cost may not seem like very much, especially when compared to the huge savings that passing the exams provides students, the College Board estimates that around 29,000 students nationwide will be deterred from taking the exams by the $15 cost.
Joe Radding, administrator of California’s exam fee reimbursement program, said states have made clear to Congress the importance of this funding, but lawmakers simply did not appropriate enough to help all of the students in need. The cuts deny a vulnerable population of students access to rigorous testing that prepares them for college and potentially awards them college credits, he said.
“We can’t impose on these students the burden of offsetting the federal government’s failure to provide adequate funding,” he said.