The financial fight against AP exams


Submitted Photo

North Penn students stand alongside alumni Steve Malagari after meeting to discuss exciting new changes.

What began as a big dream for young kids has quickly turned into a promising future for AP Students in Pennsylvania. Four North Penn students worked day and night, side by side with State Representative Steve Malagari, to help introduce new legislation that will effectively lower the cost of higher education exams and courses within the state.

North Penn seniors Ahnaf Tausif and Alyssa Charow have worked together since their junior year to implement a plan to help lower the cost of AP exams at North Penn. Within the year, the project has grown bigger than ever expected, and plans to conquer all of Pennsylvania rather than just one high school.

“I met representative Steve Malagrai through the new leadership and society class here with Mr. Fluck and Mrs. Grunmeier, and he was one of the people who came to speak at one of our classes,” Charow stated. “Originally, this project was just meant for here at this school, so I was only talking with administration and Dr. Bauer, and I just shot representative Malagrai a quick email, and he wrote back saying it was a good idea and wanted to meet at our next administration meeting.” 

After taking on a project so large, Charow and Tausif agreed that they may need a few more hands to help carry out their plans. With careful consideration, Charow and Tausif invited North Penn juniors Tarun Iyengar and Lauren Yoo to become part of the project as they knew they would not be disappointed.

“Because Ahnaf and I are both seniors, we knew it probably wouldn’t be finished in time, so we wanted to include two juniors that we 100% trusted to take it over next year. We are all in student government together, and we agreed that the juniors we wanted to take over this project would be Lauren and Tarun,” Charow explained.

The project’s initiative is to lower the extreme costs of AP exams as well as higher education classes in Pennsylvania. The current prices for a standard AP exam are set at 94 dollars, and a capstone exam is set at 145 dollars. Although the price of the exam cannot be removed completely, this team of students has devised a plan to increase the affordability.

“Alyssa reached out to state representative Steve Malagrai to create a legislative bill where 80% of the AP exams would be paid for by the state department of education and the remaining 20% would be up to the school district,” Yoo stated. “We want to take these exams to be an opportunity that every student can access if they want to.”

These students have set up meetings with state legislators and spoke openly with them about their financial concerns for Pennsylvanian students. By working together, these students have opened the eyes of government officials and made a voice for AP students statewide.

“We’ve sat in on several meetings with state representative Steve Malagrai, a few school administrators within North Penn, and also Mr. Mostert and Mr. Evans have helped us a lot as well,” Yoo shared.

The selfless acts shown by these students will not go unnoticed. This group was inspired by the suffering of others rather than themselves. Although many members of the group can afford to take part in these exams, they recognize that for others, it is nowhere near this easy, which is the main reason they reached out to representative Malagari.

“I feel so lucky to have parents who can spend the money on AP exams without worry, but for other families, it’s so much of a struggle even with free and reduced lunch and other discounts in place. It limits the chances for people, and knowing that there are so many smart individuals at North Penn who could apply themselves but have the barrier of finance is inspiring to be able to work to change that,” Iyengar said. “This is going to prepare students better for their future but also allow them to learn new things and apply themselves in a way they have never done so before.” 

“This is going to prepare students better for their future but also allow them to learn new things and apply themselves in a way they have never done so before.” 

Accounting for their hard work, the project is picking up more speed every day. Although there is no timeline set in stone, officials are looking at a projected year two before the progress is visible to the public.

“As of right now, they’re looking at it being passed by the house by next year. We would like it implemented in the house within the 2023-2024 school year, so I don’t think it would be implemented in the schools directly, but more like a pilot,” Charow explained. “So we’re looking at possibly the 2024-2025 school year.”

All made possible by their dedication and support from others, these students are pleasantly surprised with the work they have done for their community and hope to see their progress benefit those in need.

“The people that Representative Malagari has spoken to, like the college board and departments in the PA House of Representatives, have all been very supportive of the idea,” Charrow shared. “Why do it for the school when you can do it for the state?”