While taking an Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) class in high school looks great a college transcript, taking the end-of-course AP exams costs a pretty penny. For low-income students, paying fees of over $100 is simply not feasible.

Until recently, a federal grant helped students pay for the majority of the exam fees, and qualifying students paid only $15 per AP exam. Unfortunately, the grant ended late last year when Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Barack Obama signed the act in 2015 which established the federal government's expanded role in funding public education and includes endowments that will help to ensure success for all students and schools.

The new law doesn’t take effect until this September which means there is a one-year funding gap. Congress also created a block grant to support a variety of programs, and states can apply for that grant money and use it for many things, including offsetting the cost of AP and IB test fees for low-income students. But Congress hasn't funded the program yet.

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With some states helping out by covering some of the costs, students would still be responsible for covering $53 per exam.

This has led many to worry that low income students won’t be able to take the exams. Before that happens, a group of Washington public agencies, businesses, and education non-profits has been working together to raise $800,000 to cover the gap year in funding. If they succeed, the student portion of the price would go back down to $15 per exam. This effort was spearheaded by Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib of Washington.

Microsoft and The Schultz Family Foundation have each donated $100,000 while JPMorgan Chase and Nordstrom have each given $25,000. Washington officials and the non-profit College Success Foundation are working on raising the rest of the money by March 7—the deadline for students to sign up to take AP exams.

Image Copyright Nicolas Raymond.

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