The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Is the College Board Truly a Nonprofit?

By upping the prices and having a complete monopoly over one of the most prestigious exam organization in the nation, the College Board raises debate over whether or not it is truly a nonprofit
Catherine Lee
College Board is not the non-profit organization it tries to be, overcharging students per tests.

There is much debate on whether the College Board is a nonprofit organization. Legally, yes it is. Morally, not so much.

The College Board is the organization that administers the Advanced Placement (AP) exams and Standard Assessment Tests (SAT). Though they charge for exams, the College Board is considered a nonprofit.

“Every year they raise test price[s] and it doesn’t really seem like they have a lot of employees for that amount of money,” junior Yara Alghani said.

As reported in Best Colleges, AP exams cost $10 when they were first introduced in 1954. Ever since, the exams have been increasing by one or two dollars a year. In 2024, exams now cost $95. Alghani, who is taking three AP exams this year, will have to pay a whopping $285 to take her AP exams.

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Alghani also plans on taking the SAT this year, which costs $60 plus an additional $18 if she chooses to see her correct and incorrect answers. Once Alghani applies for college next school year, she will need to pay $12 to send out her score to each college she applies to.

Despite common belief, a nonprofit is allowed to make money as long as it solely goes towards aiding the broader public community and it does not benefit private individuals, excluding general compensation for their services. The broad definition of a nonprofit leaves a lot of legroom and loopholes for the College Board, allowing for the organization to be exempt from taxes, receive federal funding and provide over two million dollars a year to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Coleman.

Yet there is still debate. The College Board’s inconsistency of its true intentions is skeptical.

“I know that they make a lot of money off the tests, and they really have a monopoly,” junior varsity girls’ soccer coach Praveen Karunatileka said. When he was in high school, Karunatileka took both AP classes and the SAT.

AP exams and SAT scores are College Board affiliated tests and give students an advantage in getting into colleges.

“I don’t think there’s [any] other ways that you can take AP exams or SATs,” junior Charlotte Ma said. Ma plans on taking four AP exams this May and the SAT.

The College Board is the only organization that has the status and power to distribute these approved tests for colleges nationwide. On one hand, there is the International Baccalaureate Organization (IB), an organization that is similar in terms of the college credit that AP exams provide but is recognized on a global scale. However, in the United States (US), only 900 high schools offer IB classes, while 22,800 high schools offer AP courses as recorded by the U.S. News. The College Board holds a giant monopoly in the United States.

Although Universities of California do not accept SAT scores anymore and other colleges are starting to lean towards test optional, AP exams still play an incredible role in college applications. In fact, the number of AP exams taken has increased from 1.6 million in 2002 to 5.2 million in 2023.

Tests do cost money to administer, but the profits are extraordinary for this billion dollar industry and are they really to the benefit of the student?

“For AP history because it worked for me last year, [I’m] probably going to invest in some prep books, and then mainly focus on that content,” Ma said.

Using AP exam test preparation books such as Barron’s and Princeton Review are very popular among Woodbridge High students. But in reality, these books cost money and are something not everyone across the nation can afford. Along with that, access to the internet or other materials can be limited.

“Not everybody gets the same and some people don’t have the resources,” Alghani said.

There is an argument that the College Board gives chances to students of lower income to exemplify their academic success and earn some college credit. However, according to The Washington Post, in 2023, there were 5.2 million AP tests taken with 1.1 million being taken by low-income students. 60% of those low income students got a failing score.

Overall, the College Board receives around $500 million every year from AP exams and other related materials alone with $90 million coming from the government with about 40% of that money being used to partially pay for low-income students’ fees.

Yet the majority of low income students, most being of minority groups, don’t get a passing score. Historically, minority students have had little access to resources both financially and in education. It is clear that the only one benefitting from all of that invested time and money is the College Board.

If the College Board is truly a nonprofit, it is expected to serve the broader public interest rather than being advantageous exclusively to those of higher income.

Additionally, the College Board has been involved in some instances where it has not facilitated the diversity it claims to adhere to as a nonprofit.

According to CNN, in 2015, the College Board changed its AP US History curriculum after some complaints that it focused on the negative aspects of US history, the curriculum choosing to teach the exploitation of Native Americans, instead of highlighting more positive features of history such as so-called “American exceptionalism”. The College Board listened and reversed its curriculum to be more patriotic the following year.

More recently, in 2023, the College Board modified its curriculum for AP African American studies after it was rejected by Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Topics on Black Lives Matter, incarceration, the reparations debate and queer life are no longer a part of the exam.

An institution that can be so easily influenced by politics begs the question on how we want education to be. Do we really want future generations to be taught with a blind eye? The College Board seems to have complete influence over certain subjects simply because their exams could potentially give someone a higher up on a college application.

People argue that if the College Board were to cease to exist, there would be nothing to replace them. No other organization in the United States comes close to the actions that the College Board provides in measuring academic intellect based on what is perceived as an even standard. However, is that necessarily a bad thing?

“A shift away from strict multiple choice tests, as well as the standardized exams [would better] fit a measurement of people’s learning of the core material and class instead of memorization,” Karunatileka said.

Maybe it is time to retire from the College Board. A true nonprofit or not, the College Board’s monopoly on a system that is inequitable yet continues to be seen as a measure of academic achievement no longer holds the merit it should. The educational landscape is evolving and that means learning systems must evolve with it.

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About the Contributors
Rebecca Sanchez
Rebecca Sanchez, Copy Editor
Hi! My name is Rebecca Sanchez and I will be the copy editor as well as a general writer for my first year in Golden Arrow. I am also a soccer player and track runner for Woodbridge High and in my free time, I love watching movies with my family and playing with my two dogs. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to inform my peers of new interesting topics in both webstories and on paper and to edit the Golden Arrow right before it goes to print! I look forward to a great year!
Catherine Lee
Catherine Lee, Photographer
Hi Warriors! I'm Catherine Lee and this is my first year on Golden Arrow as a photographer and writer. I am so excited to meet new people who are involved with our community as well as helping others develop interest in events. I like to nap and get 15 sweetener pumps for my boba :)