As college rounds the corner for me, a junior, I have begun to realize the dependence that AP students and students taking the SAT have on the College Board.
The College Board controls AP and SAT testing. AP tests determine whether students will receive college credit for Advanced Placement courses taken at their high school. While the idea of AP tests is positive in theory, they present challenges such as ill preparation and monetary costs for the tests themselves. Along with this, to thrive on SAT tests students should take preparatory classes and/or purchase the practice questions booklet. These things, along with the SAT test itself, cost money.
The College Board does provide the $40,000 Complete Your Journey Scholarship. There are six steps to earning this scholarship, with $500 awarded for each step and an additional $10,000 for completing all six steps. But only 25 students will receive this scholarship from a lottery once the steps are completed. As I go through this process myself, it is disheartening that only 25 students are selected out of approximately a third of a million that apply yearly. So, only 0.0075% of students that apply for this scholarship receive funding. The chance of winning the scholarship doubles for students who qualify for financial aid through completing their FAFSA.
For the SAT, students may qualify for a fee waiver. To qualify, students must meet the requirements for one of the following: the National School Lunch Program, your family’s income falls within the income eligibility guidelines, you’re enrolled in a federal or local program that aids students from low income families, your family receives public assistance, you are in foster care, or you are an orphan.
Now, let’s break down the numbers. The average California household consists of 2.95 people, and using benefits.gov to find financial legibility for the National School Lunch Program, the average household of (rounding to) three people must have an annual income of below $40,626 before taxes. Generally speaking, these households are just above the 30th percentile in California. These guidelines are similar for income eligibility.
The College Board also boasts free official SAT practice, partnered with Khan Academy. While Khan Academy is an excellent resource, the College Board is one of many Khan Academy donors, alongside big names such as Comcast and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Finally, AP daily videos are available on the College Board website for free. However, they are not aligned exactly with classes, which can make them hard to navigate and challenging to review with a different set of notes.
While the College Board takes care to show that it provides opportunities, the fact remains that tools required to get into college should not come out of students’ pockets. Getting into desired universities is challenging enough already, but the added step of the agonizing middle man that is the College Board is a costly punch in the gut.
College is expensive enough on its own; it is time to start talking about alternatives for Advanced Placement credit and the abolition of the SAT.