ARRL Board Establishes Program to Cover Initial FCC License Fee for Young Applicants
The ARRL Board of Directors has formally endorsed a proposed program calling on ARRL to cover the $35 application fee for license candidates younger than 18 years old. The FCC is not expected to implement the $35 application fee schedule until sometime in 2022. The Board approved the “Youth Licensing Grant Program” at its July meeting in Hartford, Connecticut. The program concept, first raised at the Board’s annual meeting in January, was reviewed by an ad-hoc committee, which expanded the scope of the original motion by ARRL Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB.
Goals of the Program include expanding the reservoir of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts within the amateur radio community, and removing a financial obstacle to young people who wish to acquire an amateur radio license, as a means of encouraging potential careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Under the program, ARRL would cover a one-time $35 application fee for each qualified candidate who passes one or more amateur radio exams taken on the same day at a single examination session. Tests would have to be administered by a Volunteer Examiner (VE) team working under the auspices of the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC). Qualified candidates also would pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC.
The new program also would “enhance ARRL’s position as the leader in volunteer testing,” the Board motion said. “The Board believes that the recruitment and training of young amateur radio operators is a necessary and proper mission of the ARRL, and that subsidization of the $35 fee will reduce the number of new amateurs that otherwise would be lost from these groups,” the Board said.
The Board said ARRL Headquarters staff would determine the method of qualifying applicants and instruct VE teams, giving the teams flexibility to determine that a candidate is eligible for reimbursement in the absence of documented proof. The Board envisioned that the VEC would pay the FCC directly. The new program initially would serve up to 1,000 new license applicants younger than 18 years old.
The motion gave ARRL staff “complete latitude” to determine how payment is delivered to the FCC or to reimburse eligible applicants. This program length is indefinite; it may be renewed or terminated by the Administration and Finance Committee or by the Board of Directors. The motion carried with applause from Board members.