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Press Release


New policy goes into effect today

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The University of North Carolina System has a new System-wide Advanced Placement (AP) credit policy, effective today. Under the new policy, the 16 universities in the System must grant credit to students who have earned a score a “three” 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.

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 offer a robust set of offerings. Making the policy consistent across the UNC System will therefore enhance the University’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 percent more courses than they did under current 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 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 get credit for scoring a ‘three’ on the popular US history AP exam; at the remaining six universities, a four was required for credit. A score of three on the English Literature and Composition exam was the cutoff for credit at nine institutions, while two institutions required a score of five.

The University’s new AP credit policy will dramatically increase the return on the state’s investment. In 2016-17 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 that year. After today, students and the state will save on tuition and appropriations that previously went toward the cost of University courses that cover  material students have already learned.

As students move through the University more efficiently, they will enter the workforce more quickly, fully prepared to succeed in and contribute to our state’s growing economy.