The College Board – corporate corruption or helpful nonprofit?

Paul Navis

The College Board has controlled the academic industry since 1899. However when a student’s education is exploited for financial gain, it shows the true natures of the company. 

The College Board is an academic non-profit organization that produces the SAT and AP tests for use nationwide. According to The College Board over 2.2 million students take the SAT, and the student research foundation shows 4.22 million AP tests taken. As the developer of these tests, The College Board not only influences the building of curriculum but also profits off of students. 

The College Board is listed as a non-profit and is valued at over a billion dollars. They make their money from students and schools paying for their tests. The SAT costs  $49.50 per student, and AP tests cost $93.00 per student. Students often question whether it is valid for The College Board to operate as a non-profit. However the legal bounds of what a non-profit can do are a little more complicated.

The main goal of a nonprofit is to be an organization that advocates for a social group or in general helping a specific social issue. Being labeled a nonprofit is useful for an organization for one main reason: exemption from taxes. There are multiple types of nonprofit, but the most widely known type of nonprofit however is the 501(c)3, which The College Board falls under. This is described by as organizations for “religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition.” The College Board qualifies under this category as it claims to be an educational organization.

While technically The College Board falls under 501(c)3 as an educational organization, some feel it skirts the true goal of a non-profit. While paying employees and executives is necessary and allowed for nonprofits it is typically used sparingly and within reason

According to in 2014, “The president at the time of the 990, Gaston Caperton, made more than $1.5 million, including incentive and deferred compensation; 22 other employees earned at least $200,000.” Current president David Coleman is ranked as the 13th highest-paid

sourced from Zippia

nonprofit executive with a salary of $1.7 million, according to a large part of The College Board’s profit is from students and schools who pay to take the SAT and AP tests, it stands to reason those who the organization claims to help are actually the ones paying for these exorbitant salaries. Evan Cox, a Blythewood junior, said “legally it is a nonprofit but no it doesn’t act like one. Everything it does is completely in pursuit of profit that mysteriously never seems to go back to students.”

While The College Board may technically be able to call themselves a nonprofit under current law, it does not mean the actions they take are actually benefiting students.  

The College Board scores a 100/100 on Charity Navigator’s ratings of charities. With a rating of 100/100, you might think this looks like an impressive organization. However, there are many sections that are simply not scored. This includes sections on leadership and on community. The impact and results section is not scored due to the fact that those receiving the money from the product pay a large portion of the cost. The only real information shown is the financial security. Most people don’t worry about the financial security of an organization valued over a billion dollars.