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Money awarded for students to take AP tests

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Money awarded for students to take AP tests
By Megan Kennedy, Staff Writer , Charleston Gazette-Mail

West Virginia students taking Advanced Placement courses can now get help paying for the tests from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Wednesday that it has awarded $79,443 to West Virginia to give to students who cannot afford the final AP tests at their schools. Other recipients of the money include 37 other states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, for a total of $28.4 million in grant funding.

The recurring program is known as the “AP Test Fee Waiver Grant program” through the U.S. Department of Education, said Jenna Green, advanced placement program coordinator with the West Virginia Center for Professional Development.

The money applies to tests that are administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education. Those students who qualify for the assistance will pay only $12 per test, instead of the standard $91 per exam, Green said

In 2014, students who qualified paid $18 and in 2013, students paid $10 if they qualified for assistance.

This May, 1,680 exams were administered in West Virginia that were reduced in costs, Green said. Some students may take more than one test.

By helping students with these costs, the program aims to encourage students to take the tests to obtain college credit, in turn, reducing the total costs for a higher education.

Any “typical” student who receives a score of 3 or higher on two AP Exams has the potential to save an average of more than $1,200 at a public four-year college in West Virginia and $4,700 at a private institution, according to The College Board, a not-for-profit organization that helps connect students to higher education opportunities.

“Levels of funding per state were determined on the basis of state estimates of the numbers of tests that would be taken by low-income students. From 2014 to 2015, preliminary results show that the number of tests for low income students covered by the program (in the United States) increased from 768,772 to 831,913—an improvement of more than 7 percent,” according to the statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Advanced Placement classes and the corresponding exams come with very high expectations for our students, as well as important early exposure to the demands and rigor of college-level courses, all while still in high school,” department official John King said in the news release. “These grants are a smart investment in equity and a way to eliminate barriers for low-income students, level the playing field and allow more students to access the college-level critical thinking and reasoning skills taught in AP courses.”

Advanced placement courses are offered to any high school student, but a student must pass the AP test to be able to earn college credit for the course. Some students can take the AP test without taking the class, though it’s a rarity, Green said.