How to get a college application fee waiver

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Paying for college is already an expensive endeavor, and the application process alone can cost anywhere from $ 25 to $ 100 per school. Whether you plan to apply to many colleges or just a few, the cost can add up. College application fee waivers are one way to avoid these application fees, and you may be eligible if you have financial need.

How to get a fee waiver for college applications

There are several ways to find fee waivers for college applications.

Exemption from SAT and ACT fees

Qualifying for the SAT and ACT fee waivers automatically qualifies you for the college application fee waivers through the College Board and on Coalition, Common and Universal applications.

Most of the time, you do not need to provide additional information to obtain an SAT or ACT fee waiver; your school counselor will identify eligible students and distribute waivers from there. If you haven’t obtained a waiver and need it, talk to your guidance counselor.

NACAC fee waiver

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) offers fee waivers to those in economic need. You will need to request these waivers using a online form which can be printed or saved in PDF format. Once the form is completed, it should be signed by a school counselor, post-secondary support staff, your school principal, or a representative of a community organization. From there, you will send the form to your college admissions office.

Although the NACAC lists basic eligibility criteria, you may be eligible by obtaining a specific application from a school principal, guidance counselor, financial aid officer, or other similar official who can vouch for your situation.

College Financial Aid Office

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for fee waiver programs, it is worth contacting the financial aid offices of the colleges you are applying to. Some colleges are willing to waive the application fee if you contact directly and explain your situation.

Who is eligible for a college application fee waiver?

Most fee waivers require a demonstrated financial need. If you don’t have financial or payment issues for college admission applications, you likely won’t be eligible for a fee waiver. In general, exemptions are available for:

  • Students who currently have or have obtained a free or reduced lunch.
  • Students enrolled in a government program for low income families.
  • Adoptive children.
  • Social housing residents or homeless students.
  • Students from families whose annual income qualifies them for the US Food and Nutrition Service.
  • Students receiving public aid.

If you don’t qualify for a waiver based on your needs, you can ask a high school or college official to vouch for you, saying the cost of applying would cause financial hardship.

What if you don’t qualify for fee waiver?

If you are not eligible for a college application fee waiver, you can always try to limit the amount you have to spend to apply to schools. On the one hand, you can restrict your search to schools that don’t charge you for applying; PrepScholar maintains a list of colleges with no application fees that you can refer to when you begin your research.

You can also organize your list of colleges to avoid applying for more than necessary. Research approval statistics and financial requirements beforehand to narrow your applications to the best schools that you are truly invested in and are likely to be admitted to. College Council recommends applying to five to eight schools, but you can adjust this number if needed.

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