BOONE, N.C. — The University of North Carolina System has a new System-wide Advanced Placement (AP) credit policy, in effect as of July 1. Under the new policy, Appalachian State University and the 15 other universities in the System must grant credit to students who have earned a score of 3 or higher on AP exams, except in cases when a course has been granted an exception by an institution’s board of trustees.
“Our new AP Credit Acceptance policy is vital to the UNC System’s ongoing work to put higher education within reach of every qualified North Carolinian,” said UNC System Interim President William Roper. “This new policy will encourage more high school students across the state to get a head start on their college careers. It will make completing a UNC System education, at any one of our institutions, faster and more affordable.”
The new AP policy is aligned with the UNC System’s Strategic Plan, which aims to increase access, affordability and degree completion. Research suggests that students who earn college credit prior to enrolling in college are more likely to graduate and do so in a timely fashion.
“Appalachian welcomes the opportunity to create a more streamlined articulation process for AP credits,” said Cindy Barr, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at Appalachian. “We believe this will likely help students graduate in a timely manner. We always advocate for increased affordability of and accessibility to higher education.”
With this new policy, prospective students will benefit from greater transparency and predictability. These improvements may also create greater incentive for students to enroll in AP courses and for high schools to provide a robust set of offerings.
Making the policy consistent across the UNC System will therefore enhance the System’s efforts to ensure that all North Carolinians, including those from rural counties and low-income families, have “access to success.” Data shows that students from rural counties and those from families earning less than $60,000 per year could receive credit for up to 45% more courses than they did under the System’s former policy.
“Each year, the state of North Carolina invests millions of dollars to cover the cost of AP exams for students in the hopes that those credits will shorten the path to a college diploma,” said Dr. Andrew Kelly, UNC System senior vice president of strategy and policy. “This change is significant because it will encourage high school students to earn their first college credits before they even set foot on campus, making a degree more affordable and helping more students graduate in a timely fashion.”
Prior to the change, the policies governing the acceptance of AP scores varied across UNC System institutions. For example, at 10 universities, students could gain credit for scoring a 3 on the popular U.S. History AP Exam; at the remaining six universities, a score of 4 was required for credit. A score of 3 on the English Literature and Composition Exam was the cutoff for credit at nine institutions, while two institutions required a score of 5.
The System’s new AP Credit Acceptance policy will dramatically increase the return on the state’s investment. In the 2016–17 academic year alone, the state spent more than $12 million on AP exams. In that same year, UNC System students missed out on 13,950 course credits under the existing policy.
Under a uniform policy, the UNC System would have granted credit for 40% more courses in 2016–17. Now, students and the state will save on tuition and appropriations that previously went toward the cost of System courses that cover material students have already learned.
The change in policy will allow students to move through the System more efficiently and enter the workforce more quickly, fully prepared to succeed in and contribute to the state’s growing economy.
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.