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Follow the Money

Total Registration, at the request of schools, administered two surveys the summer and fall of 2018 to gauge AP Stakeholders' (Administrators, Coordinators, Teachers, Students, Parents) thoughts on the College Board's planned, mandated Fall AP Exam Order Deadlines, Late Fees and Cancellation Fees. Across the board, AP Stakeholders agree the changes will not be beneficial to students, parents or schools. Furthermore, a large percentage remarked that the changes only seem to benefit the College Board. When asked "Why is the College Board making this change" more than 41% responded that the reason was for the College Board to make more money (see the survey results here). That begs the question: How much money does the College Board have, make, and spend? Do they need more money in order to implement the new changes. Below are the results of our research. All information was acquired through publicly accessible documents.


In 2019, the most recent audit available, the College Board had $1,313,429,461 in Cash and Investments.  They hold over 1.31 BILLION dollars that can be used to finance any College Board related activity.  

In fact, the past 10 years of IRS filings indicate that the College Board's profit as ranged from 4% to 14%.  Which means, that after all expenses (salaries, exam materials, grading, etc.) the College Board keeps between 4 to 14 of every 100 dollars it takes in.  How does it use the extra cash?  Investments.   In 2019 the College Board made $38,708,672.00 in investment income alone.  Remember, as you review the information in the table below, the College Board is designated as a 'Not-For-Profit' by the IRS but has made a "profit" for all years listed.

Here is a brief summary of College Board finances:

Revenue Expenses Profit Cash +
# of AP
AP Exam
2022 - - - - - $96
2021 - - - - - $95
20201 $946,156,000 $846,662,000 $99,494,000 $1,530,987,000 4,751,957 $94
2019 $1,107,897,207 $1,049,304,734 $58,592,473 $1,313,429,461 5,098,815 $94
2018 $1,073,678,672 $979,521,189 $94,157,483 $1,152226,448 5,090,324 $94
2017 $1,067,701,847 $927,784,350 $139,917,497 $1,111,851,062 4,957,931 $94
2016 $942,621,972 $905,054,378 $37,567,594 $885,062,957 4,704,980 $92
2015 $915,776,813 $838,417,778 $77,359,035 $843,049,505 4,478,936 $91
2014* - - - $833,083,475 4,176,200 $89
2013 $840,672,990 $741,778,125 $98,894,865 $832,905,923 3,938,100 $89
2012 $795,817,602 $740,561,685 $55,25,5917 $610,429,516 3,698,407 $87
2011 $758,985,414 $713,755,580 $71,675,145 $560,176,503 3,456,020 $87
2010 $720,650,408 $648,975,263 $65,634,741 $444,339,911 3,213,225 $86
2009 $659,809,288 $594,174,547 $53,345,767 $426,570,867 2,929,929 $86
2008 $623,039,302 $569,693,535 $39,127,848 $350,695,990 2,736,445 $83
2007 $621,042,351 $581,914,503 $55,108,238 $393,245,000 2,533,431 $83

1Data from a May 10, 2021, Price Waterhouse Cooper Audit (, Search for Single Audits, Auditee Name - College Board). This infromation will be updated when the 2020 Form 990 is available.

* Change in Accounting Year from Jul-June to Jan-Dec

Notice a trend?  The College Board has increased revenue and cash & investments for 12 out 13 years as reported above (2008 is an exception, but if you invest you understand why).  But don't just take our word for it, check out the College Board's 990s (an annual information return that most 501(c)(3) organizations claiming federal tax-exempt status must file yearly) on Pro Publica.

Why more money from AP families?

It is understandable that the positive changes the College Board is implementing for the 2019-2020 AP Exams, providing study resources and pre-printed materials for example, could be costly.  However, it is clear they could dip into the more than $1,300,000,000 in cash and investments to cover the related expenses.  So the question remains, why does the 'not-for-profit' College Board feel the need to take more money from AP families?  Especially if one considers past actions as any indication of future behavior, the College Board would likely use the additional money they take from families to purchase investments and make even more money for the College Board.  

TAKE ACTION - Circulate the Petition

Based upon the findings from the surveys and the examination of the College Board finances, some schools have determined that the College Board simply does not need any more money from their schools or families.  Thus, they are resisting the implementations proposed for the 2019-2020 AP exams designed to increase the money collected by the College Board.  A petition has been started to demand that the College Board change their plans for the 2019-2020 exams.  If you feel the need to voice your plea for change on behalf of your AP stakeholders we recommend you do the following:

College Board's Revenue

College Board's Profit

College Board's Cash + Investments

History - # AP Exams & AP Exam Fee