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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funding for AP Exams and courses under the Title IV, Part A block grant.

The vast majority (95%) of Title IV, Part A funding goes 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 2019-20 school year, the Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program has been funded at $1.17 billion by Congress in the federal fiscal year 2019 budget. States and districts can use these funds to provide support for AP students and expand access to AP courses. The Department of Education has provided the FY2019 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. 

The Title IV, Part A funding distributed to states in summer 2019 can be used for AP Exams taken in May 2020. 

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 2020 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 2020 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 2020. For example: If your district expects to administer 100 low-income exams in 2020, 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 public school students using state funds. Others use state funds to pay for a specific subset of exams such as 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 2019 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 2019-20 school year and beyond:

1. Announce your commitment to fund low-income students’ 2020 AP Exams.

By publicly announcing your state’s or district’s commitment to make 2020 AP Exams free or affordable to all low-income students, you can guarantee access to AP.  Data from the College Board’s 2018 AP Exam administration showed that a state funding commitment mattered to low-income students. In states that committed to pay for some or all of a low-income students’ AP Exam, participation among low-income students grew by 4%.

In addition to providing state funds, a state may use Title IV, Part A funds or Title I, Part A funds to cover AP Exam fees for low-income students in 2020 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 provide feedback, including key dates.

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States Are Acting

See which states have announced their commitment to fund AP Exams in 2019.

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