The Dubuque Community School Board aims to increase the percentage of graduates taking post-secondary qualifying exams like the ACT and SAT to 95% by 2023 in hopes of expanding their postgraduate opportunities.
Given that in 2018 only 62% of the district’s graduates took the ACT, this is an ambitious goal.
For many students, these tests are not only an academic barrier, but also a financial burden. A student applying to six or more colleges will likely spend over $400 on just ACT/SAT test and college application fees.
Fortunately, there are avenues for reducing these costs. Students eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program qualify for ACT/SAT fee waivers. These come with a full suite of benefits, including free online test prep, free score reports and most notably college application fee waivers. They can save students hundreds of dollars on fees, help students improve their scores and enable students to apply to more schools.
During the 2018-2019 school year, 43.8% of students in the Dubuque Community School District were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and therefore qualified for ACT/SAT test waivers. With more than
570 college-bound graduates annually, these waivers could prevent as much as $100,000 from leaving the Dubuque community each year, all while expanding the opportunities available to its high school graduates.
The school board must ensure students and their families are informed about such initiatives, as they will be critical to the success of the district’s strategic plan and will help Dubuque’s graduates achieve their goals.