Around 60 percent of all students at Berkeley High School take an Advanced Placement (AP) exam each year. These exams are quite expensive for many students, as some may want to take more than one exam. Students may also want to take International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, which share the high price tag. Lowering exam fees would help students afford to pay for higher education and save money, which is why IB and AP exams should be significantly less expensive than they currently are for students at BHS.
Currently, each AP exam costs $110, and each IB exam costs $130. These testing fees apply to almost all BHS students, excluding those who qualify for reduced lunch or who apply for non-automatic financial aid. These cost have a high impact on a large fraction of the BHS student body, as 29 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Applying to college has always been incredibly unfair to those who come from low-income families. These students often do not have the same access to educational opportunities and are often the first in their families to go to college. The cost of these exams only makes college applications even more unfair. By lowering the cost of these tests, students of all backgrounds would be able to reach their full potential.
Although the AP program is only taught in the U.S. and Canada, the IB program is international and found throughout 159 different countries. Lowering these exam fees would also create a more inclusive education system for the 1.2 million students who take AP tests every year.
Students in high school are already stressed with the school work, and they shouldn’t also be worried over exam fees. This stress tends to build even more in college when students fall into student loans. This is specifically unfair to economically disadvantaged students.
At BHS, over 900 students have registered for AP exams, and not every one of these students can afford the big price tag that comes with college. After paying the price of college applications and test fees, students still have to pay for housing, dining, and much more in college.
This may lead to questions about how the College Board and the IB program would afford to pay for the tests. These fees are necessary to keep exams running, but it doesn’t need to be as highly-priced as it currently is. The IB program also uses fundraising to run these exams. It appears that the program facilitators are simply financially benefiting from the high price. Even with applied financial aid, the fee for AP tests still comes out to over $50. In reality, the costs could easily still be covered even if the fee was lowered.
For many students, the cost of the exam fees remains unreasonably high. Lowering these testing costs could change everything for those who are from low-income households. The College Board should heavily consider a cheaper method for these tests to be distributed among all testing students at BHS. In the future years, these programs should be improved with better funding to create a more positive impact on the overall BHS community.