- Photo Blogs
- Special Reports
No matter how they cut it, a hard fact of life for high school seniors is that college is expensive. According to U.S. News, the average cost of college in 2010 was about $20,000 for public schools and $35,000 for private schools.
While scholarships may help somewhat, students or their parents often must pay out of pocket to cover the rest of tuition. This is usually done by getting a student loan, but the problem with loans is that if students don’t repay them in time, they end up in debt.
While some student debt is probably inevitable, there are a number of ways to ease the burden. Students can and do apply for scholarships, but there’s another small solution that can be implemented right here at the high school level.
In general, it would be a huge help to Advanced Placement students if the fee to take the exam were eliminated.
The AP program is basically an opportunity for high-school students to take college-level courses and earn college credit. The courses are designed to prepare students for the AP exams towards the end of the school year, which cost $87 apiece to take. According to the College Board website, AP students took an average of 1.75 exams per student in 2011, which amounts to an average cost of $152.35 per student.
If the College Board just got rid of the $87 fee, it would be doing a great service to all AP students. The $87 that students spend on the AP test could instead be another $87 toward paying for college tuition. Sure, that may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but the truth is that when paying for something as important as a college education, every dollar counts. And while someone will have to pay for the exams, it seems unfair to place that burden on the students taking the test. Instead, having the AP teachers pay to have the students take the exams seems like the better option.
Many people defend taking the AP exam as worth paying the price to avoid the much higher costs that come with each college credit hour. However, especially if students take multiple AP exams, those costs will add up. Students could be parting ways with hundreds of dollars, money which could instead be saved and put in towards paying for tuition later.
If students want to save on college, they shouldn’t have to fork over additional money in high school. Furthermore, while other tests like the SAT and ACT come with their own fees, the AP exam differs from the ACT and SAT in that, unlike those tests, the AP test is just like a part of students’ normal studies. All of the time in AP classes is devoted to getting ready for the exam. The AP test serves a similar purpose to finals in other, non-AP classes.
If a student enrolls in an AP class and then decides not to take the exam, it defeats the purpose somewhat. While it is true that just taking AP classes still saves money on credit hours, taking the exam is still useful for another purpose. As much as taking an AP class might impress the admissions personnel, looking at a student’s transcript and seeing a 4 or 5 on the AP exam will convince them even more that the student belongs at their college.
Because of this, students shouldn’t be forced to pay extra to take the test, especially considering that $87 is an amount equal to what high-school students make in a week working 12 hours on minimum wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
In short, the $87 fee to take the AP exam has no reason to exist. First of all, the College Board is a nonprofit organization, according to their website, so they would be able to make the necessary money through donations. AP students who already suffer through the rigorous work those classes offer should not have to pay extra to take the test, especially considering that these students have spent all year preparing for it. By the end of the year, the students have probably worked hard enough, and paying any amount of money – especially as much as $87 – to take the test only adds insult to injury.
Highs chool students, seniors especially, need every dollar they can get in order to avoid excessive college debt. The fee to take the AP test, therefore, is just another unneeded expense. I urge someone to call or write the College Board and persuade them that if they were to get rid of the AP test fee, it would help a great many students in the long run.
By Isaac Pasley