As we all know, college is expensive. Simply applying to college can quickly add up considering application fees, standardized test fees, and travel expenses. Colleges charge anywhere from $30 to $85 per application which may not seem like much but adds up when you are applying to multiple schools. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the cost of applying to college making it a tad affordable for you!
Consider these options:
Attend an open-house event or schedule a campus tour. There’s a benefit to physically going to a school’s campus rather than just researching them online—they will waive your application fee! All you must do is spend a few hours having fun and learning about your prospective school. Most often, college recruiters will pass out special forms or codes you can use while you’re applying online to waive the application fee.
Demonstrate financial need. Many schools will waive an application fee if you can prove there is a financial need. Usually the school will ask for a written request from you along with another document to substantiate the need. This could either be an SAT/ACT waiver form from your school’s guidance office (if you received a waiver to take the test), documents from your school showing eligibility for a free or reduced lunch, and/or your family’s most recent tax return.
Consider schools with NO application fee. Although most colleges charge a fee to apply to their institution, there are other schools who do not charge a fee at all! In fact, there are a good number of schools, such as, Smith College, Baylor University, and Marquette University—to name a few—that do not require a fee to apply to the school.
Do extensive research. The sure way to reduce the cost of applying to college is by doing thorough research on the schools you are interested in attending. Whereas you may have originally compiled a list of five to six schools, that number can be reduced to about one to three schools. Think about it, let’s say six schools each cost $50 to apply, you’ve easily racked up $300 in application fees and will most likely end up considering half of their offers. Why not cut that number in half? Researching also gives you a realistic outlook as to which schools you are truly interested in that way you avoid applying to colleges you wouldn’t attend.
Keep in mind application fee waivers are handled differently at every college, and some or all of the above options may not be available at every school. That said, you should read a school’s application information carefully or talk to an admissions counselor directly. The cost of applying to college doesn’t need to be a barrier—be sure to ask about any opportunities to wave your application fee!