Don’t Let Application Fees Dictate Your College List

college_appWhen applying to colleges, either as a traditional first-year student or as a transfer applicant, step one is to identify the best schools for you in terms of academic match and personal fit. Don’t let the prospect of high application fees stop you. Before you start eliminating colleges from your list due to application fees, explore whether the school offers an application fee waiver.

In addition to transcripts, test scores, and the actual application, most schools require an application fee that ranges between $35 and $90. The prospect of paying out all these fees may be discouraging, but luckily there are ways to receive application fee waivers.

Start with the admissions office at each college. Check their websites, or pick up the phone and call the admissions representatives directly to find out their fee waiver policies. For many schools, you will be able to directly obtain the waiver from them. If the colleges you are applying to use the Common Application, you can request a fee waiver through the Common App. Visit the Common App page and use the help center to search for more information.

If a college doesn’t offer a fee waiver, check to see if they accept waivers from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) or the College Board/SAT. Each organization will provide qualifying students with up to four application fee waivers (a total of eight if you qualify for both).

To find out more about qualification for the NACAC waivers and the process for obtaining them, check out the NACAC website. There are different qualifications and processes for high school students and transfer students, so be sure you select the correct tab.

The College Board/SAT waivers are available for those who qualified for a waiver for either the SAT or for an SAT Subject Test. More information about these waivers, and the schools who accept them, can be found here.

In addition to the suggestions above, students at community colleges planning to transfer to a four-year institution should contact a transfer adviser at the community college for help with obtaining application fee waivers. High school students should work with their school college counselors for help with waivers.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation encourages all high-achieving students with financial need to apply to highly selective colleges and universities that have higher graduation rates, more generous financial aid, and the potential for strong career network building. Application fee waivers are necessary to this pursuit, as the cost of applying should not be a deterrent to following your dreams of a college degree.