Nearly 130,000 California high school students will have most of their test fees paid by the federal government for Advanced Placement and other college-level exams, state education officials announced Monday.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said California received its full grant request of $10.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education to help low-income students pay for all but $5 of the typical $89 fee for AP tests and $104 for International Baccalaureate exams.
The federal program is designed to expand access to the exams, which many consider critical to learning advanced skills, boosting grade point averages and earning college credit, which can help students save tuition dollars.
"Every student in California deserves a world class education, and students who work hard and earn the right to take these advanced tests should never find themselves limited by the fees,” Torlakson said in a statement. “With this grant, we can remove one more obstacle and open one more door for some of the students who need it most.”
In the Long Beach Unified School District, for instance, about half the students who take the advanced exams receive financial aid. They numbered 1,934 test-takers for the AP and 98 for the IB last year, according to district spokesman Chris Eftychiou.
Last year, the College Board, which runs the AP program, announced another initiative to expand access to AP classes in California. The New York nonprofit said it would fund teacher training, textbooks and other needed supplies for AP classes in 200 California public schools. DonorsChoose.org, an online charity, and Innovate Foundation are joining the effort.