College is expensive. One of the first barriers to entry students face is the application fee. A recent study found more than 50 colleges charge application fees as high as $75 or more. CNBC estimates the most common amount colleges charge for application fees is $50, while the average cost is around $43. So the first way to save money on one’s college journey — learning how to have application fees waived.
Get Started Early
Thomas J. Jaworski, an independent college counselor at Quest College Consulting, points to the easiest way to avoid application fees — apply to schools that don’t require them. Some school require applying early, or by a specific date, to receive this perk.
Abril Hunt, a national training manager at Educational Credit Management Corporation, tells Parentology, “Many schools offer application fee waivers for student[s] with zero expected family contribution.”
Her other tip, should you not be alerted to this right away, “They [schools] don’t usually offer it [upfront]. You have to ask.”
Claim Financial Hardship
Jocelyn Paonita Pearson is a college funding expert and the founder of The Scholarship System. She recommends students who’ve qualified for free or reduced lunch in high school request a waiver from universities.
“Typically, students can go through their own guidance counselor or advisor to ask for the waiver. … They should reach out to the university [if] the counselor is uncertain or unaware,” she tells Parentology.
Pearson adds that students living in federally subsidized housing, or whose families participate in income-based government programs, may also qualify.
Some students may find colleges vying for their enrollment based on factors like excellent grades or athletics. Jim Anderson, a college and financial aid planner, says these schools may be willing to waive fees. One university that follows this protocol is Louisiana Tech.
Visit the Campus
Sometimes the best way to ask application fees be waived is in person. If possible, students should plan a trip to their university of choice. Some high schools may organize these trips, so check event boards at school.
Jaworski says, “Some schools will waive the application fee if you apply on-site, such as after a college visit, or [if] you visited the college at some point, they may waive the fee on their school-specific application.”
The Bottom Line
By examining their specific situations, students may find several factors that help them qualify for waived fees.
For more information pertaining to college fees, check out these Parentology articles: 10 Great Ways to Win a College Scholarship, How Small College Scholarships Can Add Up, How To Pay For College Without Loans and, to avoid any redos, find out about new FAFSA requirements here.
How To Get College Application Fees Waived — Sources
CNBC: This High School Senior Says He Is Spending $1,700 On College Applications
Thomas J. Jaworski, Quest College Consulting
Abril Hunt, Educational Credit Management Corporation
Jocelyn Paonita Pearson, The Scholarship System
Jim Anderson, Making College Worth It