Wallets will scream, parents will cling to their bank accounts and students will agonize for months over three cringe-inducing words: IB registration fees. IB, or International Baccalaureate, is an elite, rigorous educational program that helps to knock out college credits in high school, similar to the AP, or Advanced Placement, program. From October 27 to the 29, upperclassmen throughout the United States officially registered for the IB examinations occurring in May.
Social media websites, mainly Twitter, soon after felt the despair of the hundreds of students, both IB and non IB diploma candidates, investing hundreds of dollars in the program’s tests. However, nothing measures up to the rapidfire complaining about the current free or reduced lunch disparities circulating the nation.
The distinct income differences that determine a student’s level of qualification for free or reduced lunch create a ripple effect of frustration. Students dependent upon a family of low annual income rightfully receive assistance to afford the costly exams worth a relative amount of $200 or more, but the greater issue lies with the students whose families do not gain the same payment opportunities due to their annual income that slightly exceeds the maximum requirements. The leap between paying the reduced fee of $5 per exam and paying the regular amount of $110 per exam raises critical questions of the free or reduced system’s accuracy.
Steep prices are what ultimately serve as a road block for the many that deserve the chance to challenge themselves with the exams. Spending a year dedicated to the study of one or more college level courses warrants taking the exams to fully complete the program. Through the IB exams, similar to the AP exams, students are provided the necessary credits, if having passed the tests, that satisfy the costly college course requirements and avoid piling up their debt.
Ideally, additional economical support or alternate financial waivers for students taking such exams could potentially increase the numbers of those who attempt to prove in May that they are capable and that their academic persistence did not go to waste. Free or reduced lunch does not sufficiently provide fair economical opportunities as hypothetical financial waivers could, as seen by the number of students who avoid paying for the exams or squeeze out money from their wallets to pay for several exams. Ultimately, as a collective we must examine how economic fairness is qualified and to what extent the accuracy of those qualifications are.