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From 1998 to 2016, the federal government 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 Advanced Placement (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

For the 2018-19 school year, the Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program has been funded at $1.1 billion by Congress in the federal fiscal year 2018 budget—a $700 million increase over last year. States and districts will have significantly higher Title IV, Part A allocations and can use these increased funds to provide support for AP students and expand access to AP courses.The Department of Education has provided the FY2018 preliminary Title IV allocations, by states, 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; and
  • Funding specific AP courses/exams. 

Title IV, Part A funding was distributed to states in summer 2018 and can be used for AP Exams taken in May 2019. 

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 2019 AP Exams

The College Board remains committed to ensuring access to the benefits of AP for low-income students, and will provide a $32 fee reduction per exam for students with financial need. For each 2019 AP Exam taken with a fee reduction, the school forgoes its $9 rebate, resulting in a cost of $53 per exam, or $101 for each AP Seminar Exam and each AP Research 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 2019. For example: If your district expects to administer 100 low-income exams in 2019, the cost to make the exams free for these students would be $5,300.

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Additional Sources of AP Funding Under ESSA

State and Local Control Funds: A number of states cover the costs of their students’ AP Exams by using local funds. For example, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina cover the cost of AP Exams for all their students using state funds. Others use state funds to pay for a specific subset of exams—exams taken by low-income students, or exams taken in specific disciplines like STEM.

Title I: States may set aside 3% of their fiscal year 2018 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 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 2018-19 school year and beyond:

1. Announce your commitment to fund low-income students’ 2019 AP Exams.

By publicly announcing your state’s or district’s commitment to make 2019 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 2019 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.

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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