Parents of high school students enrolled in the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) system will be digging deeper into their pockets to cover several new fees contained in the budget recently approved by the FCPS School Board. And those most affected will be families with high achievers in academics or sports or both.
Effective this coming school year, Fairfax County will be levying a $75 testing fee for all Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests administered to students in the county. The College Board charges $86 for each AP test and rebates $8 to schools to cover the costs associated with proctoring and administering the program. With the new FCPS fee, families will be going from covering none of the AP charges to paying all but $3 per test. IB tests and associated expenses are a little more complicated, and even with the new charges, a large portion of the total cost of IB testing will continue to be shouldered by the county.
In addition to the testing fee, a $100 per sport participation fee will be charged for students playing Virginia High School League sports. If your daughter plays field hockey in the fall, runs indoor track during the winter, and is the girls’ lacrosse goalie in the spring, you’ll now be shelling out an additional $300 to cover the cost of being on the teams.
School Board member Patty Reed is concerned about the failure of the FY 2011 Approved Budget to protect high school families from what she calls excessive fees. “…a family with two high school students who each take four AP or IB classes and play two sports in a single year, will now pay a total of $1000 in sports and testing fees for just one year,” commented Ms. Reed.
Although provisions are in place to cover expenses for low income students, the new fee schedule is going to be a shock for most parents—especially those with college-bound students who are encouraged to take AP classes and be involved in extracurricular activities including sports programs. But county parents should take heart. They are not alone.
In Frederick County, Maryland, it costs $90 per sport to play on a high school team. In the Boston suburbs, it can cost as much as $975 per family for students to play on a high school team—even if they sit on the bench the entire season. And many school systems have always charged testing fees. In fact, some tack on a little additional to cover incidental expenses associated with administering the tests (click here to see a state-by-state breakdown of AP fee policies).
So colleges, take note. All that pressure to achieve is slowly getting more costly—and not just in Fairfax County.