Call it a promise unkept.
State education departments across the country may be surprised to find they're on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in promised federal funding to help low-income students take the college-level Advanced Placement exams.
Since 1999, CollegeBoard — the nonprofit makers of the test — and the federal government shared the cost of waiving the $79 fee to allow thousands of low-income students to take the AP exam. High school students could obtain college credit for high scores on the 5-point exams, reducing the time required to get a degree and lowering the cost of college.
“Advanced Placement participation is an important element in creating a college-going culture in our high schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement released Wednesday. “AP courses help students develop the study skills, critical reasoning and habits of mind that prepare them for the transition to college. They give students — particularly first-generation college-goers — the confidence that they can successfully handle college-level work.”
In previous years, the CollegeBoard subsidized $26 and the federal government funded the remaining $53, making taking the AP exam free for low-income students. The money was usually doled out to state education departments in March to allow low-income students to take an unlimited number of AP exams in May.
Students were chosen for the federal Advanced Placement Test Fee program if they attend a "Title I" school with a high population of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches.