Please remember that the College Board is a nonprofit.

But Mercedes Schneider reminds us that the people who work at this nonprofit make a lot of money.

If you scan the list of executive salaries, you might begin to understand why the SAT is so expensive to consumers.

And you might cheer on the FairTest list of more than 1,000 colleges and universities that have become “test-optional,” because they recognize that a student’s score on the SAT or the ACT is less valuable as a predictor of college success than the same student’s four-year grade point average.

Schneider reviewed the College Board’s most recent tax filings.

She calls it a “lucrative racket.”

Total revenue in 2016 was $916M, just shy of one billion dollars, $3.3M of which derived from government grants. The greatest revenue generator was “AP and instruction,” at $446M, followed by “assessments,” at $338M.

piggy bank cash

As for 2016 lobbying expenses: The College Board spent $2.3M (a drop in the billion-dollar bucket of its total revenue), with the following explanation:

The College Board contacts legislators and their staff to provide data and statistics on K-12 education and college admissions and to encourage them to support appropriations for education.

If your nonprofit breaks a billion in revenue, then $2M spent on lobbying becomes relatively nothing. In addition, “providing data and statistics” is probably far enough removed to be considered as not actively lobbying.

But let’s move on to the few who profit the most from nonprofit College Board.

The highest paid independent contractor by far was another testing entity, Educational Testing Services (ETS), at $359M.

Former Common Core “architect” and College Board president, David Coleman, drew $1.7M in total compensation in 2016, $512K of which is “bonus and incentive compensation.” Note that as of 2019, Coleman is no longer president and is “just CEO.” The person replacing Coleman in 2019 as president, Jeremy Singer, made $871K in total compensation in 2016 as chief operating officer.


Former Gates Foundation policy director, Stefanie Sanford, who left Gates in December 2012 for chief of policy at College Board, pulled $597K in total compensation in 2016.

Then she has a fairly long list of other well-paid executives who do the significant work of the College Board.

See, if you teach students, you don’t earn much, but if you test them, you can drive a Porsche.