The fee charged all applicants at ARRL VEC-coordinated Amateur Radio test sessions in 2018 will be $15. The fee cannot be reduced or waived, as the FCC requires VECs who charge a fee to apply it uniformly throughout the calendar year. Per FCC rules, no VEC may collect any test fees in excess of its expenses; that is, VECs cannot make any money in providing the services they offer to their VEs or to the community. The best a VEC can do is to break even, to be revenue neutral (and only once, during 1991, did the ARRL VEC come close to covering all its expenses). The $15 fee is charged to anyone applying for a new amateur license or upgrading their license class and operating privileges. The last ARRL VEC fee increase was in 2009, changing the fee from $14 to $15. Prior to that, the fee was increased in 2005 from $12 to $14. In 2003 the fee was increased to $12, up from $10, and in 2001 the fee was increased to $10, up from $6.65.
Applicants failing an exam element at ARRL sessions, where examiners permit retesting on a failed exam element, must pay a retest fee of $15. When taking tests, the payment of one $15 test fee will allow any applicant to take any one or up to all three exam elements just once. If an applicant fails an element and requests to retake the same element, a second registration entry is made and a second test fee is charged. Furthermore, retests are permitted only if the VE team has adequate time and if the VE team has another test version (different than the test failed) on hand.
VE Team Reimbursement:
The maximum reimbursement the ARRL VEC allows ARRL volunteer examiner (VE) teams to retain to directly offset their prudently incurred out-of-pocket expenses is "up to $7" per exam fee collected. (This fee had remained at the "up to $4" per person served level since introduction in 1991 until 2003. In 2003 and 2004, the fee was "up to $5", and from 2005 through 2008 the fee had been "up to $6".)
ARRL VEs/teams can retain a portion of the fee only if the team keeps a complete record of the reimbursement-fees retained and expenses paid (with receipts kept in team records) for two years, so long as the expense is specifically related to exam administration, and as long as the expense is warranted and has been prudently incurred. Only the amount needed to offset out-of-pocket expenses incurred (or to be incurred) is to be retained. If documented in team records, a reasonable amount can be retained to cover expected expenses. Any overage or excess a team may have retained that is uncommitted to the teams' needs must be returned to the ARRL VEC.
Since 2005, the Horseshoe Amateur Radio Club Examiners has retained less than the maximum fee. In 2008 we retained only half of the allowable fee, and beginning in 2009 we retained less than half of the permitted amount.
ARRL VE Update for December 2005, December 10, 2004.
ARRL VE Update for Winter 2006/2007 December 1, 2006.
VE Express Newsletter, November 6, 2008
The ARRL Letter, Vol. 27, No. 44, November 7, 2008