Every child in America has the right to a formal education, and thousands of high school students use this opportunity to make something out of their lives and change the world. The most driven and motivated students are even bold enough to take AP classes to better learn about various subjects. Students also take AP classes so that they can take the AP exam to better themselves in the watchful eyes of colleges. However, many students are hindered by what they often cannot control: money.

Many high school students around the country are driven by a desire for success, to get ahead in a world where opportunities are often times scarce. For many, this means taking as many “Advanced Placement” tests as possible during their tenure as high school students. AP tests are specialized subject tests that evaluate students who believe they have reached the maximum course level for that subject. The tests are administered by the College Board and are scored on a scale from 1 to 5, a 1 being not qualified and a 5 being extremely qualified. With a score of a 4 or a 5, a student is guaranteed college credit at some colleges in the United States. For some, this means getting out of certain classes, which also means being able to take a few hundred, or even thousand, dollars off of college tuition fees.

However, AP exams have a few drawbacks. Despite being rigorous tests in their own right, as of 2015 the exam administration fee has been raised to $91. A student taking five exams for example would have to pay a fee of $455, a lot of money by any account. Last year the fee was $89, and in 2009 it was $84. That’s a $7 increase over 6 years and $2 up from last year. If this trend continues the exam fee could reach over $100 by 2025. In addition to the high cost of the AP exams, there is no guarantee for college credit. Is it worth it to pay a lot of money for a test when there is no guarantee a student will earn a 4 or 5? This is a gamble.

The good news is that the College Board offers some help to those who cannot afford the exam. Low-income students could receive a $29 compensation, reducing the fee to $62. While reduced, the overall cost for multiple tests in a year is still quite high. The cost of AP exams has been rising, and more and more, students across America have been forced to ask the question, “Is the college credit worth the financial burden?”

Neil Godbole ’17 & Matt Santos ’17