You may know that college tuition and fees can cost thousands of dollars. While you may be prepared to cover those costs with financial aid, some learners fail to realize that the costs of higher education start adding up during the admissions process.

You may end up paying $50 or more just to have a school consider you as a candidate. Many experts recommend applying to as many as six or eight schools, so the total cost adds up quickly. Before you submit your applications, be sure to know which schools charge candidates nothing and how to earn fee waivers for schools with application fees.

How Much Do College Applications Cost?

If you're not paying attention, your application fees alone could set you back several hundred dollars before you enroll in a single course. The median university application fee sits at $50, but some run much higher. Without doing some research first, you can expect to spend $400 or more on the applications alone.

The SAT and ACT exams also cost money, of course. Between preparation courses, exam fees, and application costs, candidates can expect to spend nearly $700 on getting into college. However, you may be able to forgo many of these expenses.

Colleges With No Application Fees

Perhaps the easiest way to reduce the amount you pay in application fees is to consider a few schools with free applications. Of course, you need to consider other factors when choosing the schools to which you want to apply, but these can give you great starting points:

  • Wellesley College
  • Tulane University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Lawrence University
  • University of Dayton
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Florida Institute of Technology

Furthermore, many community colleges and small schools do not charge applicants. Check the schools in your immediate area. Not only can you save yourself the application fee, but staying close to home has several other financial benefits for many students.

What Is an Application Fee Waiver?

If you have your heart and mind set on a university that charges a hefty fee, you may still be able to apply for free. Many institutions provide application fee waivers for candidates with certain financial backgrounds. These waivers allow you to submit your application as usual but without the price tag.

The SAT board also provides fee waivers. If you qualify for both the exam and the application fee waivers, you can have a tremendous financial start.

Apply for the SAT Waiver

The College Board allows you to take the SAT for free if:

  • You participate in or qualify for the National School Lunch Program
  • Your family enrolls in local, state or federal student assistance programs, including Upward Bound
  • You reside in the foster care system
  • Your family income qualifies you for public assistance
  • You live in subsidized housing or experience homelessness
  • You remain a ward of the state or have no living legal guardian

If you believe you meet these qualifications, contact your high school guidance counselor. Homeschooled students can contact the counselor at the nearest high school. These professionals can give you the correct form and ensure you pay nothing for the SAT.

If you earn this College Board fee waiver, you automatically qualify for free applications to about 2,000 schools. The board automatically sends you the information you need to apply to these colleges and universities at no cost.

Apply for Waivers at Individual Colleges

If you don't qualify for the College Board fee waiver or you have already taken the SAT, don't worry. You may still apply to many schools without incurring expenses. Go to the admissions website of your college of choice.

Schools often post their waiver requirements somewhere on the application page. If you cannot find the information on the website, feel free to call the admissions office. The professionals at the institution can walk you through all the right steps.

When you're paying for college, every little savings helps. When you consider colleges with no application fees, apply for the SAT waiver and look at the waivers at individual schools, you can start your education journey on the right financial footing.

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About the Author

Mackenzie attended Texas Tech University, where she worked in the residence halls for three years. She also volunteered for school event committees and move-in welcome teams. These experiences fueled her passion for higher education and helping college students. Today, she uses her writing to help prospective college students find the right institutions for their needs. She writes for sites like The Best Schools, Nursing.org, Best Colleges, Nurse Journal, and PublicHealth.org.