College Board Costs Place Burden on Students: School Commended for Providing Assistance with Fees

Every year, many students take the SAT, SAT II’s and AP exams; in many cases, students take these tests multiple times a year. Most of them are required or highly recommended to get into the colleges to which students seek acceptance. However, students have to pay for every test they take, and then pay to send every score to their prospective colleges. When it comes time to add up all of the costs, it amounts to quite a lot, and can be a financial burden for much of the school’s population. Furthermore because the tests are mandatory for college admission, these costs cannot be avoided.
The school helps low-income students through the process of getting financial aid for these tests.  Because of the costly nature of the exams, it is very important that the school continue to offer this kind of assistance to AVID students to get assistance in finding ways to pay for the exams.
College Board, which administers the AP and SAT tests, gives students in need one SAT reasoning and one SAT subject test sitting their junior year and again their senior year. This puts low income students at a disadvantage. While wealthy students can retake the SAT several times if they want, low income students have no such luxury.
“The big disadvantage I think that AVID students have is…[when] other students take it they’ll go and they’ll take one SAT subject exam at a time, whereas AVID students, they’ve got to take them all at once because…their fee waiver is just for one sitting,” AVID Coordinator Joanne Miyahara said.
The disadvantage that underprivileged students face isn’t without blame. Groups like American for Educational Testing Reform have criticized College Board for abusing its non-profit status because it makes large profits at the expense of students. While College Board charges students large fees to take tests, its CEO is paid in excess of $800 thousand well above industry averages. Additionally, Americans for Educational Testing Reform reported that College Board’s profits are 317 percent of the industry average.
These exorbitant profits are unacceptable because they hurt the students who are most in need. Yet, schools have little ability to do anything about College Board’s questionable business model. Because of this and the essentially mandatory nature of the tests, it is all the more important for schools to help students get through this testing process.
The MVLA district has made great strides in helping students. In addition to helping with fee waivers, the district has programs that assist underprivileged students in test preparation. While more privileged students are able to take preparatory classes, the district helps students in need receive additional preparation.
The Mountain View Community Scholars is a tutoring program that helps students with SAT prep. Additionally, AVID has a partnership with preparation company Revolution Prep, that offers services to students at reduced costs.
Furthermore, the PTSA offers the PSAT, a practice for the real SAT,  free of charge to students.
Because students have to take these tests, it is crucial that schools do all they can to help students get through what can be a very financially-trying series of exams. The school’s efforts toward helping all students be prepared and competitive in the college application process should be commended.