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How Much Do AP Tests Cost?

Posted by Halle Edwards | Oct 3, 2015 5:30:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

 

Curious about how much it costs to take an AP Test? Learn here how much your AP exams are going to cost you in 2015-16. We’ll also cover how to get financial aid if you need it. So read on for maximum AP test cost saving!

 

AP Exam Cost for 2015-16

The fee for each AP Exam in 2015-16 is $92. This is a slight increase from the $91 fee in 2014-15.

In general, the cost for AP exams tends to rise by a dollar or two each year. If you’re curious about the price for future years, you can expect the fee to rise slightly – maybe up to $93 or $94 in the next year or two. Don’t worry about a massive price jump happening anytime soon.

Also, international students take note: the fee for exams at schools outside of the United States, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Canada is $122 per exam. Since College Board is based in the U.S., it costs extra money to handle international testing.

In short, AP exams definitely cost quite a bit! But there is finacial aid available. Read on to learn about College Board's fee reduction program.

 

Can I Get Financial Aid for AP Exams?

College Board provides a $30 fee reduction for each exam taken by students with demonstrated financial need. That $30 reduction brings down the total cost to $53 per exam ($30 + a $9 rebate from College Board).

How the financial need for the fee reduction is determined depends on your state, and whether your district participates in a program called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). We’ll get into the nitty-gritty details below.

 

 

Basically, the darker blue your state is, the bigger chance there is your district participates in CEP. But as we'll discuss below, the easiest way to find out is to talk to your guidance counselor. Map courtesy of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

 

The CEP is a program for schools and districts with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. If a district already uses CEP, College Board simply allows students who are eligible for CEP to also qualify for AP fee reduction.

If your district does not participate in CEP, then College Board uses the eligibility standards for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program. We’ll go over exactly what those eligibility requirements look like below.

 

If Your School Participates in CEP

The guidelines for qualifying for the AP fee reduction in CEP districts are as follows:

Either your family’s income is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level issued annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or

You qualify as an "identified student" because you are:

    • in foster care or Head Start, or
    • homeless or migrant, or
    • living in households that receive SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF cash assistance, or the Food Distribution on Indian Reservations benefits

 

If Your School Doesn’t Participate in CEP

For schools and districts that do not participate in CEP, enrollment in or eligibility to participate in the federal Free or Reduced Lunch program can be used to qualify for AP Fee reduction.

The qualifiers for free and reduced lunch are pretty much the same as CEP:

Your family’s income is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level issued annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or

You are directly certified without application for free school meals because you are:

    • in foster care or Head Start, or
    • homeless or migrant, or
    • living in households that receive SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF cash assistance, or the Food Distribution on Indian  Reservations benefits

You can read more about College Board's fee reduction policies to learn more.

 

But what if you don’t meet those criteria? Or you do meet those criteria, but $53 per exam is still too expensive?

Some states have additional funding that may be available for AP exams. This could lower that $53 price even more. Find those guidelines here. In addition, your school or district might have its own fee reduction guidelines or programs.

So how do you find out exactly how much financial aid you can get for AP?

 

Actionable

There are quite a few channels to getting funding for your AP tests, but those channels vary by where you live. You could get money from College Board, from your state, or even from your school.

To find out exactly how much financial aid you qualify for, go to your guidance counseling office and ask about AP Exam fees at your school. The guidance counselors can help determine if you qualify for College Board’s fee reduction, and furthermore, they’ll tell you about any additional funding programs your school or state might have. The guidance counseling office should have experience helping students get funding for AP exams, especially if your school has a pretty wide AP course selection.

 

 

 

Is $92 Per Exam Worth It?

If you’re anything like I was in high school, you may be getting a case of sticker shock right now. $92 per exam is a lot of money! Even if you qualify for College Board’s fee reduction, you could still be paying $53 per exam. So is the price worth it?

Well, that depends on if you pass the exam and how your score translates to college credit and/or admissions competitiveness.

If you pass an exam that is eligible for college credit at the school you end up attending, the cost can definitely be worth it – that $92 could pay for a course that runs in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some students are even able to enter college as sophomores and save a whole year of tuition based on their AP credit. In for a penny, out for a pound, as the old saying goes.

The $92 fee can also be worth it if you get a good score that helps you get into a selective college, even if that school doesn’t take AP credit. For example, I took nine AP classes over the course of high school. While many of them didn’t end up getting me course credit at Stanford, those classes – and the high scores I got on AP tests – certainly strengthened my application. For my family, the money spent on AP exams ended up being worthwhile, especially since I received a generous financial aid package from Stanford.

This means you have to make a judgment call for each AP class and test – does the class add a meaningful challenge to your schedule, or are you just piling on AP classes? You're more likely to pass each AP exam you take if your schedule isn't jammed with them. 

Think carefully about this. As we’ve said before, don’t feel pressure to load up on AP classes just to have them. Only take the classes you are confident you can do well in and/or have strong personal interest for.

Finally, the fee is absolutely not worth it if you fail the exam, because you won’t get college credit and that $92 is essentially wasted. Furthermore, a score of 1 or 2 does not look impressive to colleges, even if you get good grades in the AP class (in fact, that may just signal to the colleges the AP classes at your school are too easy). Again, make sure not to overload on AP classes!

 

What’s Next?

Learn even more about AP classes: how colleges use AP credit, the hardest and easiest AP classes, and whether the AP program is doing a good job.

Also studying for the SAT/ACT? Learn how to develop a target score for the SAT/ACT based on your dream schools.

College applications on the brain? Learn everything you need to know about the college essay and watch out for deadlines you can't miss.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.



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