The U.S. Department of Education will give Mississippi nearly $55,000 to help pay the costs of low-income high school students taking Advanced Placement and other exams that could help them earn college credit after accelerated high school classes.

The money comes at a time when the number of Mississippi students taking advanced placement tests has fallen for two years in a row. College Board figures show that 6,069 students, from public, private and home schools, took AP exams in 2013. That’s down more than 4 percent from a peak of 6,350 in 2011.

The federal award announced yesterday was part of $28 million that the agency announced for a total of 40 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement that the money will help high schools offer tougher courses and help students learn the skills they need to prepare for college.

AP exams cost $89 apiece without any aid. The federal money is expected to pay all but $18 of the cost of each advanced placement test taken by low-income students. States may opt to require students to pay a portion of the costs. Current aid had lowered the price per exam to $55 per low-income student in Mississippi.


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