The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that it will award $28.4 million in Advanced Placement (AP) grants to 38 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for historically underserved students. The grants will help defray the costs of taking advanced placement tests for low-income students.
“Advanced Placement classes and the corresponding exams come with very high expectations for our students, as well as important early exposure to the demands and rigor of college-level courses, all while still in high school,” said John King, senior advisor delegated duties of deputy secretary of education. “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.”
The grants are used to help pay for low-income students taking approved advanced placement tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations. By subsidizing test fees for low-income students, the program is intended to encourage those students to take advanced placement tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a postsecondary degree.
Levels of funding per state were determined on the basis of state estimates of the numbers of tests that would be taken by low-income students. From 2014 to 2015, preliminary results show that the number of tests for low-income students covered by the program increased from 768,772 to 831,913, an improvement of more than 7 percent.
Based on the anticipated number of tests to be taken, the grants under the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program are expected to be sufficient to pay all but $12 of the cost of each advanced placement test taken by low-income students. States may opt to require students to pay a portion of the costs.
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 debt. Expanding students’ access to and successful completion of rigorous courses was also an initial recommendation of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. 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.
The Advanced Placement Test Fee program is administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.