Maya St. Clair 5 min read AP Guides

How to Get an AP Exam Fee Waiver

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What’s Covered:

 

At CollegeVine, we believe that education should be easily accessible. To that effect, we want to help you break down barriers and maximize the value you can get while preparing for college. Read on for our guide on how to obtain fee waivers for your AP tests. 

 

Pro tip: Since CollegeBoard runs a whole family of tests, your AP fee waiver carries across the whole CollegeBoard family of exams. A fee reduction on the APs automatically qualifies you for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and PSAT/NMSQT as well. Additionally, CollegeBoard will provide you with 4 free application opportunities to colleges you select in the MyCollege portal. 

 

How Much Do AP Exams Cost?

 

Base Cost: The cost for AP exams in 2021 is $95 in the territorial US and Canada. This includes the Art Exam (which requires you to send in your portfolio for assessment). Outside of these world regions, the cost of an AP exam is $125.

 

AP Seminar and Research Cost: The only two exceptions to this rule are the AP Research and AP Seminar exams, which cost $143 regardless of location. 

 

Late Fee: On top of the baseline exam fee, late registrants incur a $40 “late order” fee. This happens when you register for the test between November 14 to March 12, unless your AP class starts during that time period. 

 

Additional Fees: Depending on the cost of proctoring the exam, your school may ask you to contribute an additional amount of money towards your test. This is up to your administrators, not the College Board.

 

Fee Waiver: the College Board’s fee waiver subtracts $33 from the cost of each test you take. 

 

Do I Qualify For an AP Exam Fee Waiver?

 

First of all, please note that if you can’t qualify based on the criteria in this section, we describe some other options for pursuing aid in the “Additional Options” section below. You should explore all your options, and speak with a counselor for a solid grounding in how to navigate the landscape of test fees. 

 

The main qualification that CollegeBoard uses to determine your financial status is whether or not you’re in the US free school lunch programs (usually – but not limited to – the National School Lunch Program, or NSLP). All NSLP recipients receive the fee waiver for every AP test. As you’ll read below, your school’s administration and AP coordinators will note your NSLP status when they register you for the APs. 

 

How Can I Apply for an AP Exam Fee Waiver?

 

You’ll apply for the AP Exam fee waiver through your school counselor. Based on your eligibility, your counselor will enter in their AP Coordinators’ Portal whether you’re eligible for fee reduction or not. Your counselor can also update your information if anything changes. They may ask you to sign a form.

 

We highly recommend that you schedule a meeting with your school counselor to ensure you’re receiving the appropriate fee waivers and coverage. This way, you can also work with them to ensure you receive any additional state or local aid that you may need. (For example, this high school last year allowed students to explain other circumstances that made it difficult for them to afford the test). You can also double-check that you still receive fee waivers across multiple years of testing – each year, counselors have to manually re-enter the eligibility of repeat test-takers. 

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When is the Waiver Application Deadline?

 

The deadline for 2021 is April 30th. You’ll need to check in with your counselor before then, and we recommend doing so as soon as possible. 

 

Additional Options for Avoiding a Fee 

 

AP has compiled a useful directory of how each state, and countries outside the US, assist students in paying for the test. Scroll through to see what your state/country has to offer and how to qualify. 

 

States that fund AP tests in 2020-2021 (and you can click through): Arizona, District of Columbia, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas.

 

Federal aid: the US government may have granted your school a certain stipend to alleviate test feeds, as part of the Every Student Succeeds act, the Advanced Placement Test Fee program, or the COVID-19 relief bills (CARES). Ask your counselors or administrators if this can cover part of your expenses. 

 

Clubs and local groups: if you’re part of a program for college entry (for example, AVID, First Graduate, Upward Bound, and Urban League), ask if the program offers any stipends, assistance, or aid. You can also ask around at places like a religious center, community office, or rotary club. 

 

How Do AP Exams Impact Your College Chances?

 

APs can play a huge part in admissions to mid- to high-tier colleges. Why? They speak to hard work and study skills, and a high score is a pretty good indicator of subject competence. Colleges also value APs because they predict how well you’re going to perform in a university setting. They also mark you as an eager learner who wants to attain high levels of proficiency. APs that complement your planned major – such as Calc and Physics for an aspiring engineer – communicate your interest and aptitude.

 

Note, however, that this is a general rule, not an ironclad rubric. No college has a minimum cutoff number of APs they want to see (they aren’t going to throw you out for taking 4 instead of 5, for instance!).

 

Instead, colleges generalize and contextualize your AP courses – for instance, the intellectual profile of someone who’s taken 2 APs probably differs from someone who’s taken 10 (but not always). Colleges will also look at your school’s offerings: if your school offers 3 AP classes, and you take all 3, that looks way better than someone who takes 3 at a school that offers 15. 

 

All that being said, your actual exam scores have a much smaller impact on admissions than the AP courses themselves. You don’t have to report AP exam scores on your application, and even if you do report high scores of 4’s and 5’s, they won’t really boost your candidacy. Instead, colleges use exam scores for course placement, or to grant course credit (if that’s their policy).

 

Colleges will also assess your APs in the context of other achievements and your life story. For example, a traveling athlete, retail worker, or caretaker has a pretty good reason not to have overloaded on APs. If you want an estimate about where you stand based on APs and other variables, you can check out CollegeVine’s admissions chances calculator, which is free to use and easy to update with different target schools.

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Maya St. Clair
Writer at CollegeVine
Short bio
Maya St. Clair is a freelance writer and Renaissance historian from Illinois. She loves "writing about writing" and helping others achieve the best results with their own prose. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.
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