College Board is Hardly a Non-Profit

Cassandra Bristol, Staff Writer

  Most students say they hate the College Board because they don’t want to deal with the stress of taking the SAT or AP exams, or they are sick of the strenuous homework routines and lengthy tests from their AP teachers. But beneath these inconveniences that students face lies a deeply corrupt institution which overcharges students, exploits and monopolizes the non-privatized education system, and upholds systemic inequality, all while claiming to be a non-profit.

   According to the College Board’s official blog, “…the SAT costs 52 dollars and the SAT with Essay costs 68 dollars,” and for AP classes, it is 95 dollars per exam in the US ( For any other public school class, exams and tests are free; clearly, the exam costs far too much. Considering the fact that SAT scores, AP exams, and other College Board-affiliated exams offer advantages for college acceptance, it seems glaringly unfair and inequitable that, out of two equally capable students, one is more likely to be accepted to a college just because he or she had access to an expensive test. Some districts offer fee reductions for those students who are economically disadvantaged, but this is not universal, and the only reduction the College Board itself offers is a mere 33 dollars off AP exams ( Without even taking into consideration the cost of tutors and preparatory courses, it is clear that the College Board is taking advantage of its monopoly on education to gain a profit at the expense of economically disadvantaged students. 

   The College Board does not spend the majority of its profits on education; rather, it exploits the non-profit system and overpays its highest ranking employees. According to The Critical Reader, “As a 501(c)(03) nonprofit, College Board is an organization that normally receives no more than one-third of its support from gross investment income and unrelated business income and at the same time more than one-third of its support from contributions, fees, and gross receipts related to exempt purposes” ( So, they may qualify as a nonprofit, but they sure do seem to accumulate a lot of wealth. According to Financial Samurai, “…the President of the College Board makes over one million dollars a year while several of its executives make 300,000-500,000 dollars a year in salary and benefits” ( For a non-profit, that is a lot of income gained by a company that does not seem to distribute funds back to lower-ranked workers, testing resources, or schools.

   The company is able to get away with such high profits and prices because they essentially run a monopoly on testing and advanced classes. The only test that is even close to competing with the SAT is the ACT, which is far outdated according to Financial Samurai ( In addition, students don’t have many other alternatives to AP classes if they want college credit and weighted GPA. Not all high schools provide access to Community College classes, and Honors courses may provide weighted grades, but they don’t provide possible college credit. Without competition, the company has no incentive to lower their prices, and they are even able to drive them up, as customers have no other viable choices. Even more perplexing is the fact that, as a registered non-profit, they theoretically should not be driven by market incentives.

   A glaring and alarming issue with the College Board is their demonstration of serious systemic issues. According to Brookings University, “The average [SAT scores for the Class of 2020] for Black (454) and Latino or Hispanic students (478) are significantly lower than those of white (547) and Asian students (632)” ( One way this can be explained, according to the Federal Reserve, is by the fact that non-white populations are statistically more likely to come from a lower-income background (, and therefore are less likely to pursue college, due to decades of generational and systemic inequality. This disparity in scores and testing success simply reinforces those inequalities and proves that the College Board is not meaningfully interested in equality or equity, but only seeks to work within these inequitable systems in order to maximize profits.

   Despite this, the College Board glosses over these issues by claiming that they are dedicated to “…[expanding] access to higher education” ( This seems legitimate as most, if not all, modern high schools and colleges utilize College Board products that assist teachers and students with AP test preparation, increasing scholarship and acceptance opportunities for students. Junior Audrey DeMers said, “The College Board has the right ideas in what they are pursuing, like educational goals, but they do not implement it well.” Any real attempt to “expand access” to anything should start with an honest effort to make a product and results more accessible and equitable. One example of the College Board’s pattern of inequity can be found among members of the disabled community. In May 2020, when tests had to be proctored differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College Board was sued for a number of reasons, including violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit cited that “…the College Board ignored warnings that giving AP tests online would discriminate against students with disabilities” ( So, if the College Board’s primary goal was really to expand access to higher education, there would not be so many glaring examples of inequality and inequitability.

   Especially with college tuition fees skyrocketing, college acceptance should not be based on how much money a student has to spend on filling in bubbles on a 95-dollar scantron, but should rather be based on something more substantive, like educational merit or improvement. It is important to hold the College Board accountable for their corruption; steps have already been initiated to try to decrease its influence, with UC schools no longer allowing  SAT scores to influence acceptance, according to CNN ( But much more is needed in the form of political action in order to break up the monopoly and end the corruption.