Press Releases

Press Release: New PPI Report Finds Top U.S. Colleges Denying Student Tuition Savings By Restricting AP Credit

By / 9.8.2016
WASHINGTON—A new report released today by PPI finds that 86 percent of the top 153 universities and colleges in the United States restrict the awarding of Advanced Placement (AP) credits, denying students and their families hundreds of millions in tuition savings. This is especially alarming as more and more high school students (over 1 million—double the number from 2003) take and pay for AP exams at the encouragement of the higher education community, including a record 275,874 minority students.

“While the number of students taking AP exams grows, colleges and universities are making it increasingly difficult for them to get actual college credit,” writes Paul Weinstein Jr., PPI Senior Fellow and Director of the Graduate Program in Public Management at the Johns Hopkins University. “As a result, students who start their undergraduate studies thinking they have enough AP credits to graduate a semester or year early often discover their school has denied some or all of their AP coursework.

“The costs of postsecondary education are now higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world. … One simple and inexpensive way to cut the cost of college is to ensure institutions of higher education don’t unfairly limit credit for AP and IB work.”

In his research, Weinstein examined the AP policies of the top 102 universities and top 51 colleges according to U.S. News and World Report. According to information made publicly available by the College Board and these schools, a majority of colleges and universities limit the use of AP credit towards a degree. There are four primary ways schools restrict AP credit:

  1. Disallow course credit for any AP work. Nine schools give students no credit for AP work. These institutions include some of the top schools in the country: Dartmouth University, Brown University, the California Institute of Technology, Williams College, and Amherst College.
  2. Restrict the number of AP subject areas that are eligible for course credit.  Only 25 percent of the schools in this study allow students to receive credit in all AP subject area disciplines. The rest (75 percent) eliminate some subject areas from consideration.
  3. Cap the total amount of AP credit that students can receive. Some 38 percent of the schools on our list cap the amount of AP credit they will give students, making it nearly impossible in some cases for students to graduate early.
  4. Hike the minimum AP score needed to receive credit. Almost half (44 percent) of the top schools do not accept a score of 3 on AP exams for credit.

The report concludes with three ways policymakers can expand credit for the successful completion of AP coursework and cut the cost of college.

Download Diminishing Credit: How Colleges and Universities Restrict the Use of Advanced Placement