Changes to AP Federal Funding Under ESSA

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Since 1998, the federal government has provided states with dedicated funding to offset the cost of AP Exams for low-income students under a Title I program called the Advanced Placement® Test Fee Program.

Beginning with the 2017 AP Exams, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) eliminated this program and consolidated AP funding with 40 other educational programs under a new Title IV, Part A block grant.

The vast majority (95%) of this new Title IV, Part A funding will go to districts, which can use these funds to subsidize their low-income students’ AP Exam fees. States can reserve up to 5% of the funds and use them for the same purpose.

Additional funding beyond Title IV, Part A is also available for states and districts.

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Title IV, Part A Funding for AP Exams

Congress funded the Title IV, Part A block grant at $400 million in the federal fiscal year 2017 budget. The Department of Education provided the FY2017 preliminary Title IV allocations, by state, available here.

States and districts may use Title IV, Part A funds for the following AP-related activities:

  • Providing funding to cover part or all of the cost of AP Exam fees for low-income students in all schools (not just Title I schools)
  • Increasing student access to, and improving student achievement in, postsecondary level instruction and exams, including AP
  • Funding specific AP courses/exams

Title IV, Part A funding will be available in summer 2017 and can be used for AP Exams taken in both May 2017 and May 2018. Because ESSA implementation occurs primarily in the 2017-18 school year, Congress included a Special Rule under Title IV, Part A to allow states and districts to use their fiscal year 2017 Title IV, Part A funds to cover AP Exams taken by low-income students in both May 2017 and in May 2018.

It’s important to note that the first Title IV, Part A funds will be disbursed to districts in summer 2017, which is after the June 15, 2017, deadline for payment to the College Board for 2017 AP Exams. Districts/schools that intend to use Title IV, Part A funds to pay for low-income students’ 2017 AP Exams should contact AP Services for Educators at 877-274-6474 or

States and districts receiving funds under Title IV, Part A must provide equitable services to students and teachers in private schools. For more information, visit: CAPE’s Private Schools and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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Funding Required for 2018 AP Exams

The College Board remains committed to ensuring access to the benefits of AP for low-income students, and will reduce the cost of any AP Exam taken by a qualifying student to $53 in 2018, which includes schools forgoing their $9 rebate per exam.

Unless your state has announced a commitment to cover AP Exams for low-income students, districts should use their historical low-income exam participation data and current AP enrollment to inform their own exam volume and cost projections for 2018. For example: If your district expects to administer 100 low-income exams in 2018, the cost to make the exams free for these students would be $5,300.

The College Board can give you the total number of qualifying examinees and qualifying AP Exams taken in your district in the last three years to help you estimate the amount you’ll need to cover 2018 AP Exams. To request that information, email

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Additional Sources of AP Funding Under ESSA

States may set aside 3% of their fiscal year 2017 Title I funds to provide grants to school districts for direct student services, which include covering AP Exam fees and providing AP courses not currently offered.

In addition, districts and schools can use Title I, Part A funds to cover AP Exam fees for low-income students under certain conditions. Click here for more information.

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Act Now to Protect Funding for Low-Income Students

To ensure that low-income students continue to receive federal funding to reduce the cost of their AP Exams, state and district leaders must act.

Here are steps you can take now to protect and expand AP access for low-income students for the 2017-18 school year and beyond:

1. Announce your commitment to fund low-income students’ 2018 AP Exams.

By publicly announcing your state’s or district’s commitment to make 2018 AP Exams free or affordable to all low-income students, you can ensure that the elimination of dedicated federal funding won’t keep students from participating in AP. In addition to Title IV, Part A funds, a state may use Title I, Part A funds to cover AP Exam fees for low-income students in 2018 and beyond.

Your announcement—on your state or district website, newsletter, or other channels—will reassure students and families that AP is still available to them and will also protect the progress your district or state has made to close AP equity gaps.

2. Urge state leaders to protect access to AP in ESSA plans.

Many states are seeking stakeholder input as they develop ESSA plans. These plans, which will include priorities for states’ Title IV, Part A funds, are being submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017.

We recommend that you encourage your state and districts to prioritize funding for low-income students’ AP Exam fees. You can visit your state’s department or board of education website to learn more about how to give feedback, including key dates.

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