College Board: A Not-So-Not-For-Profit Organization


Photo Courtesy of College Board

Parkview students question College Board’s claims as a nonprofit organization after the opening AP exam registration this month. 

On September 30th, College Board released all dates and deadlines for the 2022 AP exams. Given this yearly “tradition,” several students beg the question: Why are exams so expensive? For this reason, in addition to increasing prices of standardized tests, such as the SATs, many continue to argue that College Board’s title as a “nonprofit organization” is misleading.

Additionally, as the pandemic struck many families’ incomes and assets, an increasing number of students are demanding that all registration and exam fees be free. 

At the start of the term, GCPS administered free meals for all students, regardless of income. Although College Board is an international organization, unaffiliated with GCPS, Parkview students express that the nonprofit’s unwillingness to reduce exam prices—as GCPS did with school lunches—reflects its lack of consideration of the pandemic’s impact on families.  

On the contrary, Parkview’s AP Coordinator Doug Nichols trusts that College Board has maintained its sense of integrity and aim for equity. Although AP exam and SAT fees have increased throughout the years, he reminds us that Parkview has attempted to communicate the College Board’s fee waivers that accompany free-and-reduced lunch. 

The AP Coordinator explains that many students have mistakenly assumed they were qualified for free-and-reduced lunch ever since GCPS administered free meals last year. Consequently, fewer have applied for the actual program, paying full price for standardized tests. In this regard, College Board did offer reduced costs, but many students failed to take advantage of the opportunity for a free exam. 

However, the question remains: What about students who lie just above the threshold of being eligible for free-and-reduced lunch? 

Mr. Nichols agrees that “there are still students who might not qualify for free-and-reduced lunch who are still having financial trouble paying for the exams.” However, he also adds that College Board has been trying its best to “balance the cost of running all of the exams and still making it accessible to students.” 

Still, paying $100 for each exam is “unreasonable and classist,” says Sage Mclane, a senior taking six AP classes this semester. Similarly, Mr. Nichols also argues that it’s nevertheless “important for College Board to keep prices reasonable.” 

Yet, while Mr. Nichols notes the high cost of creating exams, Sage claims that “most outputs are used to benefit the executive board,” rendering the “nonprofit” sticker completely dishonest. 

If the organization sees an increase in the number of SAT takers this year—which Sage and Mr. Nichols predict will happen—it is sure to see a rise in revenue too. 

How the College Board will use these profits depends on who you’re asking.