Thanks to funding support from the federal government, states, and College Board, there has been a significant increase in AP participation by low-income students. The number of low-income U.S. students taking an AP Exam has grown from 424,000 in 2012 to 611,000 in 2022— an increase of 44%.
In 2022, 24% of U.S. AP Exam takers were low-income students, taking just over 1 million AP Exams. Despite the significant challenges presented by the pandemic, this level of low-income student participation is higher than it was in 2019—a testament to the students’ commitment and resilience.
College Board remains committed to ensuring access to the benefits of AP for low-income students. College Board provides a $35 fee reduction for each 2023 AP Exam taken by eligible students with financial need. Schools are expected to forgo their $9 rebate for these students, resulting in a cost of $53 per exam, or $101 for each AP Seminar Exam and each AP Research Exam.
Over the past five years, the AP Exam fee reductions provided by College Board for low-income students have totaled $163.5 million.
Funding Sources for AP Exams in 2023
Title IV, Part A Grant Program (Every Student Succeeds Act)
For the 2022–23 school year, the Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program has been funded at $1.28 billion by Congress in the federal fiscal year 2022 budget. The vast majority (95%) of this funding will go to districts; states may reserve 1% for administrative purposes and an additional 4% for state-level activities.
States and districts may use Title IV, Part A funds for the following AP-related activities:
- Provide 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);
- Increase student access to, and improving student achievement in, postsecondary level instruction and exams, including AP; and
- Fund specific AP courses/exams.
The Title IV, Part A funding distributed to states in 2022 can be used for AP Exams taken in May 2023.
States and districts receiving funds under Title IV, Part A must provide equitable services to students and teachers in private schools.
Title I Grant Program (Every Student Succeeds Act)
For the 2022–23 school year, the Title I Program has been funded at $17.5 billion by Congress in the federal fiscal year 2022 budget. Districts or schools receiving Title I funds may use those funds to cover AP Exam fees for low-income students. The funds must be used to supplement and not supplant any state or local funding for AP Exams.
States may also set aside 3% of their fiscal year 2022 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.
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (Federal Relief Packages)
Congress provided Elementary and Secondary Education Relief (ESSER) funds in three legislative packages passed in 2020 and 2021 that total nearly $190 billion to help states and districts as they address challenges associated with Covid-19.
Funding AP Exam fees for low-income students is an allowable use of ESSER funds. States and districts may use ESSER funding for activities necessary to maintain operations and continuity of services; any activity authorized under ESSA (including Title IV, Part A, which explicitly references funding AP Exam fees for low-income students as an allowable use); and planning for and coordinating during long-term closure.
State and Local Funds
Many states and districts cover part or all of the costs of their students’ AP Exams by using state funds and local funds. For details about each state’s funding policies, visit the AP Exam Federal and State Assistance page.
Act Now to Protect Funding for Low-Income Students
To ensure that low-income students receive funding to reduce the cost of their AP Exams, state and district leaders must act. The pandemic is creating learning gaps and highlighting the importance of high-quality instructional materials and practices that will enable students to catch up and succeed.
Here are steps you can take now to protect and expand AP access for low-income students for the 2022-23 school year and beyond:
Announce your commitment to fund low-income students' 2023 AP Exams.
By publicly announcing your state's or district's commitment to make 2023 AP Exams free or affordable to all low-income students, you can guarantee access to AP.
In addition to providing state funds, a state may use Title IV, Part A funds, Title I funds or ESSER funds to cover AP Exam fees for low-income students in 2023.
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.
Urge state and district leaders to protect access to AP.
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 provide feedback, including key dates.
States Are Acting
See which states have announced their commitment to fund 2023 AP Exams.
Contact us if you have any questions.