State Subsidizes Testing Fees for the ACT, SAT, PLAN, PSAT, etc.
Education Commission of the States • 700 Broadway, Suite 810 • Denver, CO 80203-3442 • 303.299.3600 • Fax: 303.296.8332 • www.ecs.org

State Subsidizes Testing Fees for the ACT, SAT, PLAN, PSAT, etc.

The following states either require all public high school students to take a college-ready assessment (and consequently pay students' testing fees), or provide all students the opportunity to take a college-ready assessment free of charge.

Why does it matter?

  • Low-income families may pass on taking college entrance exams based only on cost. However, policymakers need to know how well high school curricula are preparing students for postsecondary course content.
  • Students who do not consider themselves "college material" may change their self-image (and post-high school plans) after performing well on college placement exams. Similarly, students planning to attend college who perform below expectations on a college-ready assessment have time during their last year(s) of high school to bring their knowledge and skills up to the necessary level for postsecondary entry and success.
  • Students with postsecondary aspirations who do not take the SAT or ACT may enter a community college but are almost certain to be denied admission to a four-year institution.

    Highlights:
  • Twenty states offer all students the opportunity to take a college readiness assessment at no cost. A 21st state, Idaho, will subsidize student fees on college readiness assessments beginning with 11th graders in the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Ohio is in the process of developing a policy on college ready assessments.

    Terminology:
    ACT: American College Test. SAT: Scholastic Aptitude Test. PSAT: Pre-Scholastic Aptitude Test. PLAN: ACT's college readiness test for 10th graders. EXPLORE: ACT's college readiness test for 8th and 9th graders.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agencies, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Sources for all data points are available through this link.

    Last updated: July 22, 2008

    Research conducted by Michael Colasanti. Please contact Jennifer Dounay, 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org with comments or questions about this database.


  • State subsidizes testing fees for the ACT, SAT, PLAN, PSAT, etc.
    Alaska Although technically not college entrance or college-readiness tests, the WorkKeys assessments in Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information will be administered to all 11th graders, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year. In addition, 6th and 8th grade students will be given benchmark placement tests in Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information using WIN courseware placement tests.
    Arkansas The department of education offers EXPLORE and PLAN to districts at no charge. All students in participating districts must take EXPLORE in grade 8 and PLAN in grade 10.
    Colorado The ACT is required for all 11th graders and is paid for by the state.
    Florida All districts must offer either the PSAT or PLAN to 10th graders. Students may be exempted from testing with the consent of their parents.
    Georgia The PSAT is offered to all 10th graders. The state also offers free online SAT preparation courses, and some schools offer SAT preparation classes for credit.
    Hawaii The state offers the PSAT to all 10th graders.
    Idaho Effective with the Class of 2012, all grade 11 students will take the COMPASS, ACT or SAT.
    Illinois The ACT Plus Writing is required for 11th graders as part of the Prairie State Achievement Examination.
    Kentucky All students are required to take EXPLORE in grade 8, PLAN in grade 10 and the ACT in grade 11. EXPLORE, PLAN and the ACT are collectively referred to as the "Kentucky Work and College Readiness Examination" or "Readiness Examination." If funds are available, the department of education is required to provide an ACT preparation program to all 11th graders.
    Louisiana The Louisiana Board of Regents offers EXPLORE and PLAN to schools at no charge. All students in participating schools must take EXPLORE in grade 8 and PLAN in grade 10. Virtually all schools participate.
    Maine The SAT is required for 11th graders.
    Maryland The state subsidizes the PSAT for all students in the 10th grade.
    Michigan The ACT is required for 11th graders as part of the Michigan Merit Exam.
    Minnesota The department of education offers EXPLORE and PLAN to districts at no charge. Students in participating districts may take EXPLORE in grade 8 and PLAN in grade 10.
    Mississippi Subject to appropriation, all grade 10 students must be offered the PSAT or ACT PLAN. However, according to a January 2007 document, the department currently does not have funds to offer students these assessments.
    New Mexico The public education department must approve a college readiness assessment for all 10th grade students by the 2008-2009 school year. The assessment must test English, reading and mathematics.
    North Carolina Every student in grades 8-10 who has completed Algebra I or who is in the last month of Algebra I must be given the opportunity to take the PSAT once at state expense. (Algebra I is a required course for the career preparation and college/university preparation courses of study. The college technical preparation course of study requires either Algebra I or integrated mathematics I. Algebra I is not a requirement for the occupational course of study.)
    Ohio Legislation directed the partnership for continued learning, with the board of regents and the board of education, to recommend a college-ready assessment by the end of July 2007. The assessment must include English and mathematics. The partnership has identified the need to more clearly define college and work readiness before specifying a specific assessment instrument. In the meantime, the partnership's interim recommendation is that "the placement policy announced by the Chancellor in the 10 year strategic plan serve as an interim strategy for assessing college and work readiness while the longer term assessment plan is developed. The partnership also recommends and encourages identification of effective implementation and communication strategies for the use of placement policy as an interim college and work readiness assessment."
    Oklahoma The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education offers EXPLORE and PLAN to districts at no charge. All students in participating districts must take EXPLORE in grade 8 and PLAN in grade 10.
    Oregon All 10th graders must be provided the opportunity to take the PSAT, unless the district has obtained a waiver.
    Rhode Island The PSAT will not be offered to all 10th and 11th grade students in the 2008-2009 school year due to budget cuts. However, the department hopes to make the PSAT available to students again in the 2009-2010 school year.
    South Carolina In FY 2009, the state is paying for all grade 10 students to take either the PSAT or PLAN, and for all grade 8 or 9 students to take EXPLORE. The information from the EXPLORE assessment will be used by counselors for academic and career counseling with grade 8 students and their parents in the IGP (Individual Graduation Plan) conference, held the second semester of the eighth grade year.

    In its FY 2009 budget, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) requested but did not receive funding to implement the EPAS system. The department asked for funding to cover the costs of EXPLORE for all grade 8 or 9 students, PLAN for all grade 10 students, and the ACT for grade 11 students who had taken the core courses recommended by Act, Inc. The department also asked for funding for all grade 10 students to take the PSAT/NMSQT and for grade 11 students who had taken the core courses recommended by the College Board to take the SAT. (Students would not have been allowed to take the ACT and SAT, but would have to choose between the assessments based on their experience taking the PSAT and PLAN in grade 10.)

    Tennessee

    The EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT are administered to all students in grades 8, 10 and 11, respectively. According to the state board's January 2008 rule, "Schools will develop interventions for [8th grade] students who are not performing to the level needed to be on track to reach the ACT Readiness Benchmark." Based on PLAN scores, the intervention plans of 10th graders not making sufficient progress "will be adjusted to better assist students to reach the ACT Readiness Benchmark scores."

    Schools may opt to substitute College Board assessments (e.g., PSAT, SAT) for the ACT-based assessments.

    West Virginia All students must take EXPLORE in grade 8 and PLAN in grade 10, except for those students who meet the criteria for the Alternative Performance Task Assessment (APTA). In addition, effective with the 2008-2009 school year, all grade 11 students will be required to take the ACT.
    Wyoming The ACT or WorkKeys is required for 11th graders.

    © 2014 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education.
    To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please fax a request to the attention of the ECS Communications Department, 303.296.8332 or e-mail ecs@ecs.org.
    Helping State Leaders Shape Education Policy