State to Cover AP Exam Fees for Low-Income Students

The new program helps those pursuing STEM subjects.

Photo via iStock/spxChrome

Photo via iStock/spxChrome

For low-income high school students, the $53 fee per AP exam can present a serious barrier to higher education, serving only to widen the achievement gap.

This year, however, the state’s STEM Advisory Council will cover the cost for these students, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced Thursday in Everett. A one-time allocation of $326,000 from the council’s Pipeline Fund will cover the fees for AP exams in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, calculus, and environmental science for every interested low-income student in Massachusetts, the Baker administration said.

The federal government has provided states with funding to subsidize these tests, which can be exchanged for credit at most colleges, since 1998. But the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 to replace No Child Left Behind, lumps AP funding into a block grant servicing 40 other educational programs, effectively ending the subsidy this year.

“Barriers to AP tests leave too many underserved students at a disadvantage as they pursue STEM careers through high school and into college,” U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy told the State House News Service in a statement. “By using these funds to support students seeking to challenge themselves in our classrooms, we will not only help them grow and succeed, we are investing in the future of our workforce and economy.”

For students without financial need, one AP exam costs $93.