STANFORD — Lincoln County's school district is picking up the tab for low-income students' advanced placement exams now that federal funding has been taken away.
Angela Cain told Board of Education members Tuesday night that as many as 94 students who had been anticipating federal funding to cover the cost of their AP exams would be on the hook for $53 per exam if nothing was changed.
When students take an AP class, they have the option of taking a special exam at the end and if they pass, they receive college credit for their work, she explained.
The College Board charges $81 for taking each exam, but students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch can take them for $53.
The federal government had previously paid the fee for any free-or-reduced-lunch students who took AP exams, but that funding has ended.
Principal Tim Godbey said Lincoln County High School wasn't informed that federal funding was gone until three weeks ago, after many students had already told the school they wanted to take the exams.
Godbey and Cain highlighted another issue with the cost — thanks to a partnership with AdvanceKentucky, regular students who take AP exams are setup to have half their exam fee paid for them, meaning their cost will be around $40.
"The dilemma we're in right now is that a regular student is going to pay less than a free-or-reduced-lunch student," Godbey said.
AdvanceKentucky partnered with the district to help increase the number of students taking AP classes. The organization included funds in its budget to help regular students afford AP exams, but because there was federal funding available, it included no funds for free-or-reduced-lunch students' AP exams, Cain explained.
Godbey said AdvanceKentucky is "concerned about the commitment at the federal level," as are many others.
"It's causing them to sweat," he said. "Their budget is being pushed just like everybody else's."
The board voted unanimously to cover the free-or-reduced-lunch students' AP exam costs.
At the suggestion of board member Tim Jackson, the board agreed to talk with Lincoln County economic development officials and see if there are other funding options available that could reduce the cost to the district's general fund.
Cain said the 94 free-or-reduced-lunch students are taking a total of 136 AP classes. If the students took every AP exam they could, it would cost the district a total of $7,208. But based on just students who have already expressed interest in taking the exams, the cost would be about $5,777, she added.
Cain noted the district also has a tradition of paying students in specific categories of AP classes $100 each for passing their AP exams. If that tradition continues, 84 of the 94 free-or-reduced-lunch students could earn the $100.
Those costs to the district pale in comparison to the huge impact passing AP exams can have on the cost of college.
Cain said based on the average cost per hour of college credit, this year's free-or-reduced-lunch students could, as a group, save as much as $364,000 in tuition costs down the road, thanks to their AP exams.