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April 23, 2012 5:53 PM Who Really Benefits from “College for All”? The College Board.

By Daniel Luzer

It’ll be a long time until we see if the latest push to get more Americans through college actually results in more college graduates, but there’s at least one institution that’s really benefiting from the college rallying cry.

According to an article by Sarah Butrymowicz in the Huffington Post:

The national push to increase the number of Americans with college degrees is enriching at least one key beneficiary: the College Board, the nonprofit organization best known for administering the SAT.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have each agreed to pay the College Board anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million a year to test students in hopes of boosting their college-enrollment numbers, and the College Board is actively promoting its products in other states.
Ten states and the District of Columbia also pay for the College Board’s PSAT test to be given at no cost to their students. Three—Delaware and Idaho since last year and Maine since 2005—require and pay for all high-school students to take the SAT. Last school year, Texas also required school districts to pay for the college-readiness exam for every student who wanted to take it, although it eliminated the program this year due to budget cuts.

Taking each test costs $49.

As the article explains, more than more than 1.6 million high-school seniors have taken the SAT; this is 30 percent increase from a decade ago, which the test wasn’t required in most states.

According to the article Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, earned more than $1 million last year, about twice what he earned in 2005. As Butrymowicz writes “Caperton’s salary increase since 2005 alone could have paid for the PSAT to be given for free to almost 34,000 students.”

The Obama administration is careful to note that its “college for all” plan doesn’t actually mean that everyone in the United States needs to earn a bachelor’s degree; for many students some vocational training beyond high school should be enough to secure a good job.

But it looks like the most direct result of a push for more higher education (which admittedly predates the Obama administration) seems to be just more students taking the SAT. And that’s a test that exists for college, not vocational training.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer