Exam Fees Higher Than College Board Prices

Exam sign-up season has started at Aliso Niguel, with students signing up for various exams including the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams, all of which are currently distributed by the College Board. However, many students have expressed growing concerns about the prices of said exams.

For example, the AP exams cost $97 from the College Board, but Aliso Niguel charges students $105 for the exams, as well as every other school in the district. Also, the PSAT is $18 as dictated by the College Board, yet the school and district are charging $40 for it, over double the original cost.

Mrs. Wood, the AP Counselor at Aliso Niguel, states that for the PSAT exams, “the fees are set by the College Board, and the district decides how much to raise the price to cover the costs of proctors and classrooms.” 

Mrs. Wood also says about AP exams that the school only charges an extra amount of around $8. 

The only exam to be offered at the same price as the College Board is the SAT, and that is only because the school itself does not administer the exam. Students who desire to take the SAT must sign up through the College Board and take the exam at a designated testing site. Aliso Niguel is not currently one of these testing sites, so most students need to take the exam at another high school.

One of the benefits of the higher exam costs for most students is the heavy reduction in cost for students on what was previously called the Free/Reduced Lunch program. The program is no longer referred to as Free/Reduced Lunch because all public high school students in California now receive free lunches. It is simply called the National School Lunch Program (NSLP),  and the student’s family income must fall within the income eligibility requirements set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For these students, AP exams cost $5. This is a noticeable change from the College Board’s offer of a $34 fee waiver for these students in exchange for waiving the school’s $9 rebate. Under these conditions, each AP Exam would be around $53 for students who receive fee reductions. The exams are also $83 for international students and $101 for the AP Seminar and Research exams for students with fee waivers. Lower-income students receive benefits in this way from the school in terms of exam costs.

Reede Hendel (11) even says, “I want free exams. Why no free exams?” Students are so desperate for cheaper exams even when they do not qualify for those reductions.

Eligible students must also confirm their fee reduction status by Apr. 30, 2023, and no later in order to only pay the cheaper exam costs. They should see their school guidance counselors to work out their exam prices if they think they qualify for exam fee reductions.

Schools are permitted to change the prices for exams by the College Board, though in this case, the district is the one determining these charges. This district and school-wide basis for charging leads some schools and districts to pay nothing for their exams, while some pay a hefty extra amount.

Shine Lee (11) says, “I am taking 5 APs.” This is probably expensive.

Although most students do not take so many exams that the fees become so egregiously expensive, exam fees remain a source of stress for high school students everywhere, not even considering the actual exam.