College is expensive, but you can save money on the application process.
Applying to college can be expensive; you could potentially rack up close to $500 worth of fees if you’re applying to a range of “reach,” “match” and “safety” schools. Here are some tips for avoiding those fees.
Get a College Application Fee Waiver. The average fee for applying to a college hovers around $38, but it can get as high as $100. Luckily, if this is not something you can afford, many schools accept a College Application Fee Waiver. Your school’s guidance office will have the forms, so talk with your counselor about applying. You will receive four waivers, allowing you to apply to four schools. A full list of all the schools accepting fee waivers can be found here.
Get an SAT fee waiver. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are now required for many school applications. The former costs $50 per test date, the latter between $35 and $46 per test. If you are a high school student living in the United States or Puerto Rico and cannot afford to take these exams, talk to your guidance counselor; he or she will have the forms to apply for a fee waiver. One waiver covers one test date, on which you can take either the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests. You are given a total of four waivers, two for SAT and two for the Subject Tests. It’s simple: You are given a unique, 12-digit code which you include when registering for the exam. A complete overview of the fee waiver can be found here.
Choose which colleges receive your scores when you register. When you register for the SAT you’re allowed to choose up to four schools to whom you can send your scores for no charge. You are allowed to make changes to who you’ve chosen through the College Board website for up to nine days after you take the test. If you are eligible for a fee waiver, you can send up to four additional score reports for free. That saves you the $10.50 price tag for each score you send.
Get an Advanced Placement Exam waiver. Although it went away for a while, this program is back and, if you qualify, you can waive the $87-per-exam fee — and potentially gain college credit and/or skip entire introductory courses (which ends up saving you FAR more than that $87, folks!). California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas and Washington still require students to pay a small fee per exam.
Apply online. Some schools will waive your application fee if you apply online, essentially rewarding you for saving some trees and saving them the hassle of filing and processing all your paperwork.
Visit campus. Some schools — typically smaller schools — will offer a waiver or reduction if you take the initiative to visit their campus. They take this as a sign of your interest. This is generally not the case for larger colleges and Ivy League schools, which have tons of people visiting all the time, but, hey, it’s worth a shot. To find out if a school you’re interested in offers this, call the school’s admissions office and ask.
Apply early. Some schools want applications in early so they can better handle them. Thus, they’ll waive the application fee. Again, generally not true with big name, big schools.
Alumni support. Sometimes alumni from smaller colleges can give a fee waiver to a student. The logic is that this honors the student, immediately connects them with the alumni and the institution and makes them want to go. Ask around to any college grads you feel comfortable approaching — may end up being worth it!
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