The College Board is corrupt

by Nick Calandrillo, Reporter

“College Starts Here.” 

That is the phrase greeting visitors to the website of the most infamous company in the American education system, the College Board. This seemingly innocuous slogan is painfully truthful for millions of college hopeful high schoolers each year. 

In order to understand why so many students resent the College Board, and why universities need to step in and stop the College Board, it is important to establish some background information about the company.

Art by Jersey Patterson

The College Board was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1899, with the purpose of “expanding access to higher education.” Despite its status as a tax-exempt nonprofit, the College Board is best known for its administration and sale of SAT and AP tests. Good performance on the SAT test in particular is essentially mandatory in order to be considered at top universities, which makes the College Board play a considerable role in the academic careers of students. Because universities can be primarily credited for the relevance of the College Board, it is up to universities to stand up to the College Board when they are taking advantage of students.

One of the reasons the College Board has become notorious among students and parents are the prices attached to taking their tests. SAT tests cost $52, while each AP test costs $95. On top of the base test prices, the College Board charges students a myriad of fees, which in some cases can result in individual tests costing over $200. Fees such as a $15 fee for registering by phone, a $12 fee for each individual score report, and a $30 fee for changing test location can add up very quickly. All of the money made from charging students such prices causes the College Board to have a surplus of extra money each year.

Rather than using this money to support its missions or to lower test prices, the College Board pays exorbitant salaries to its high ranking executives. The president of the College Board, Jeremy Singer, makes over $1 million each year while other top executives make between $300 and $500 thousand. Considering that one would not expect such salaries and test fees from an education focused nonprofit, it is no surprise that the College Board is widely hated. While there are many other and similar qualms that people have with the College Board, they all stem back to the idea that the College Board is not truly fulfilling the purposes that it purports to have.

Considering the public outcry over the College Board, what can be done about it? Should students stop paying them to take tests and in turn willingly forego potential advantages? Or should students focus on lobbying organizations that have the power to stand up to the College Board, such as universities or the government? The real answer is considerably more complicated. In reality, the issues that people have with the College Board have been more or less the same for the past 40 years. Students have paid and will continue to pay the prices set by the College Board, and the College Board will continue to exercise its monopoly over the SAT and AP tests. This leaves the burden on the universities to reduce the power of the College Board and to use different ways of selecting students.

In recent years a growing movement to do away with the pivotal role that the SAT plays in college admissions has emerged, which was especially bolstered by forced closures due to the Coronavirus. In order to combat the inequalities of paying for and taking the SAT, lots of universities did away with the requirement for submitting scores and some refused to accept scores entirely during the 2020 college admission process. Additionally, some schools are pledging to make the SAT optional or not to consider the SAT for years to come.

Overall, it is no secret that the College Board is not your average nonprofit. Anyone can observe their business model, or their growing revenues year by year, and question as to whether or not they are truly committed to fulfilling their mission statements. Right now, both the number of people applying to college and the number of colleges shunning the SAT are the highest they have ever been. In the coming years, the College Board will either continue to thrive or will be forced to make significant changes in order to stay relevant. Time will tell.