The College Board

To high school students, the College Entrance Examination Board (The College Board)  is like the friendly hand guiding us to higher education. The College Board administers the SAT and AP tests; when we look for scholarship programs, we start at the College Board website. It calls itself “a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success”. Nevertheless, the College Board is merely another example of a capitalist money drain that only aides certain groups to success.

The College Board claims that it is a not for profit organization, meaning the good “Samaritans” running the board should not be claiming a direct profit from the institution. GuideStar, another non profit organization, compiles comprehensive financial reports of non profit agencies through publicly available information, such as tax forms. During the 2015 fiscal year, the College Board had a total revenue of  $915 million, while losing $840 million in expenses cost. Their net gain was over $75 million. This 75 million is generated from College Boards astronomically high costing tests, was not used to benefit low-income or at risk students. Rather this money was placed directly into the wallets of the CEOs and top executives of the College Board; the same people who initially decided the costs of these tests.

How much do tests like the SAT cost? To take the test (with the essay section), it costs students $60, 1.36 million students took this test last year. These fees are too much to bear for some families, so the College Board has created a Fee Waivers program. If you are eligible, you can take the SAT for free twice, receive four score reports, and waive four of your college application fees (among other things). The SAT Fee Waivers program is under no circumstance, a bad thing. Yet, the College Board has used this program to claim they, as an organization, are beneficial to low-income students. At the same time, the SAT is not the only College Board test high achieving high school students take. Last year, 2.7 million students took 5 million AP tests. The College Board does not provide fee waivers for AP tests, though; they only have fee reductions. A student living below the poverty line, can qualify for a $32 fee reduction, meaning they pay $53. Most students take more than one AP test and they may need to purchase prep books, the costs can add up quickly.

A lack of resources and lofty test costs negatively affect students in Colorado in particular ways. Over the last decade, Colorado has seen an immense increase in the number students living in high concentrated poverty areas. A child living in a high concentrated poverty community is more likely to suffer from things such as high stress and emotional problems, even if they do technically live above the federal poverty line. This also means these students are isolated from resources that are available to them, therefore to reach these students, the College Board needs to make more of an effort. Additionally, in Colorado after the recession, homelessness among students has almost doubled. In most situations, these kids and their families are not living on the street, but rather have doubled up in homes with friends/family. These crowded houses are preferable to living in a car, but this means that academic performance suffers. In general, the data shows that ever since the recession, the academic performance of Colorado students has been suffering.  Overall, our child poverty rate is going down, but there are still issues to address. The best way to get students out of poverty is through education. The only problem is, it is very difficult for these students to find and receive programs like the College Board’s fee waiver program. The solution to this lack of resources/lack of ability to find them, is to expand these programs. Make them more available and wide spread. so all students in high poverty and high stress situations know about and can utilize them. Of course though, the additional $75 million in profits generated by the board, is not being put to good use.

It is true that the College Board’s SAT and ACT fee waiver/reduction programs, have been essential for some students. The issue, is that they aren’t readily available or expansive enough for other students, like the Colorado kids living in high poverty areas or doubled up homes. We must realize, the reason these program are essential, is because of the high costing tests. We would not need free waiver programs, if the test was originally free. But, these tests do cost money and the high costing tests means that the College Board, a not for profit, creates a net profit of over $75 million. This 75 million does not go back into bettering these waiver programs. This net gain does not increase the number of cost-free SATs or completely waive AP test prices for students. The profits of a not for profit merely profit one type of person- the one in charge, while in high school students in Colorado (and America) are left to deal with the consequences.

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         Board, 16 May 2017,

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