Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beware: PSAT Fee Scam

The PSAT is given by your local high school on a school day. This year, the test date is Wednesday October 14, 2009. MCPS high schools tell students and families they want 100% participation on this optional standardized test.

The MCPS Board of Education has set aside funding in the budget to pay for all 10th graders to take the PSAT for free.

For all other MCPS students taking the PSAT, the fee from the College Board is $13.

So why are some MCPS high schools charging more than $13 for the PSAT? The Board of Education has not authorized the collection of a profit on the administration of these tests.

Here is a sample of some of the PSAT fees being charged.
BCC High School Fee: $15

Churchill High School Fee: $13

Gaithersburg High School Fee: $14

Northwest High School Fee: $13

Poolesville High School Fee: $13

Rockville High School Fee: $13

Seneca Valley High School Fee: $14

Richard Montgomery High School Fee: $13

Walter Johnson High School Fee: FREE for 10th & 11th graders! (How are they providing the PSAT for FREE to 11th graders? In the rest of the county, 11th graders have to pay a fee to take the PSAT.)

If you are paying more than $13 for your child to take the official PSAT your local school is making a profit on this "100% participation" test.

The funds collected by the local school, over and above the required PSAT fee, stay at the local school and create a slush fund for the local Principal. The "profit" on the PSAT exams in not flowing back into the MCPS Operating Budget.

1,000 students paying an extra $2 a test creates a $2,000 slush fund at the local school. How are those funds going to be used? It's anyone's guess.


  1. It's nice that you put that link to the college board down. Here's what they say:


    The fee for the 2009 PSAT/NMSQT is $13. (Note: Schools sometimes charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs.) The College Board makes fee waivers available to schools for students in eleventh grade from low-income families who can't afford the test fee. See your counselor for more information about fee waivers.

    So they mention administrative fees. I don't mean to be critical, but did you at least ask why those who are charging more are doing so? You may be correct, but given the accusatory tone (calling it a SCAM), I think the poster should be responsible for following up with more information.

  2. Do you ask "why" when your car is stolen? If the thief has a good reason you say, go ahead and take my car?

    We asked about the profit being tacked on PSAT fees. We asked MCPS administration. MCPS Principals are not permitted to make a profit on the PSAT exam charge. That is straight from MCPS. The PSAT fee is $13.

    The definition of scam is a deceptive act. Making parents think the PSAT costs $15 is a deceptive act.

  3. What do the principals have to say about it? Did they back up their additional charges with any "administrative" costs? I am just questioning "profit" claims vs. obviously "administrative cost" claims from the individual schools. So what did the principals say?

  4. Individual schools don't have Operating Budgets. They can't pay salaries. Salaries are paid out of the MCPS Operating Budget and paychecks come from the central office.

    Great question about what principals were going to do with fees that they were not permitted to collect. Please ask them and report back what you learn! Thanks!

  5. I do not mean to sound overly critical, but it's just my point that as a courtesy, it would not hurt to ask the principals their side of the story. I think you have a good lead, but I am not the one making comments like "scam" and "thief" on a widely viewed forum and am under no obligation to follow up.


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