How to Get a College Application Fee Waiver

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During the final two years of high school, Juniors and Seniors are probably drowning with various questions about applying to college, particularly about financing. Students are already trying to save money by scoring well on standardized tests, crafting essays, and applying to schools with low in-state tuition. Still, countless students and families feel stuck when facing obstacles like the application fee.

Students want a diverse pool of potential colleges to attend, but the growing applications cost may scare applicants away. As a college-bound high school student, you should know that you have options available to waive a college’s application fee. Read on to learn how to qualify for a college application waiver.

Talk to Your High School Counselor

During the college admissions process, set up a time to chat with your high school counselor. He or she will discuss various ways for students to save money through grants and scholarships. If you qualified for a standardized tests waiver, you may also qualify for an application waiver. High school guidance counselors will do their best to help students, but they may need extra documentation, such as your family’s tax return, to prove eligibility. Once you receive approval, you can use the waiver for other schools on your list.

Request a Waiver

Check if you can request a waiver from the college or even online. First, contact the college’s admissions office, as each school has a different process for withdrawing the application fee. For instance, attending a scheduled campus visit for the day may qualify students for application fee waivers. Moreover, institutions may waive application fees if the prospective student already has a sibling enrolled in the university. If the first two options do not work, talk to your high school counselor for extra support.

Apply to Colleges Without an Application Fee

Students may also want to consider colleges without an application fee. The university will specify how students can apply for free. For example, applying through the university’s website can waive the fee. Also, using your high school’s resources for submitting a standard application may prove beneficial.

During a college fair, university reps will suggest applying through Common App, which is a standard college application. In 2020-2021, approximately half of the colleges that accepted the standard application did not charge a fee.

If the college charges a fee for their application through Common App, you will be notified. Research different schools to see if they do not have an application fee or accept the standard application. Here are some colleges that don’t have an application fee:

  • Carleton College – Northfield, MN
  • Wellesley College – Wellesley, MA
  • Colby College – Waterville, MA
  • Smith College – Northampton, MA
  • Kenyon College – Gambier, OH
  • Tulane University of Louisiana – New Orleans, LA
  • Reed College – Portland, OR
  • Butler University – Indianapolis, IN
  • LeTourneau University – Longview, TX
  • University of Scranton – Scranton, PA
  • Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, IL
  • Westmont College – Santa Barbra, CA
  • Florida Institute of Technology – Melbourne, FL
  • Saint John Fisher College – Rochester, NY
  • Roanoke College – Roanoke, VA
  • Ursinus College – Collegeville, PA
  • Saint Johns University – Collegeville, MN
  • The Kings College – New York, NY
  • Moravian College – Bethlehem, PA
  • Centenary University, Hackettstown, NJ

Prove Financial Hardship

Colleges also want to give options for students with financial hardships to enroll. If you had received or qualified for free/reduced lunches while in school or had your standardized test fee waived, you also qualify to waive the college application fee. You can have four applications without any type of charge. Furthermore, applying to colleges with the standard application through Common App can help you qualify. According to Common App, the necessary qualifications for the Common App fee waiver are:

  • You enrolled or eligible for federal free or reduced-price lunches in school.
  • You received or enrolled for SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT fee waiver.
  • Your family’s annual income falls within income eligibility for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that assists students from low-income households.
  • You are homeless or live in federally subsidized public housing or foster home.
  • You are an orphan or protected by the state.
  • You have received or are eligible for a Pell Grant.
  • You can provide a supporting statement from a school counselor/school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader.

Reach out to your school counselor for more information about financial hardship assistance because they must sign off on any income-related fee waivers.

Final Thoughts on College Application Fee Waivers

As a college-bound student, you don’t want bills that extend into your ‘30s or ‘40s. While it may not feel substantial now, you can waive college application fees to reduce your total debt. Meet with your school counselor to determine the best approaches for you and your family to save money. They might have resources that you and your family can access.

Remember to reach out to the admissions offices for any information about an application waiver. Each school has a different process or options to get rid of its application charge. Next, research different colleges that do not have an application fee or accept the standard application.

As a final option, you can discuss further with your high school counselor and prove any type of financial hardship. By following these steps to waive the application fee, you can save more money for other college costs. For more tips and resources for all questions related to college admissions, make sure you subscribe to our blog.