What is a College Application Fee Waiver and How Can You Get One?

Trish Sammer Updated on March 13, 2018

Most high school counselors recommend that students apply to five to eight colleges. Unfortunately, those college application fees can add up.

But there’s good news: you can request application fee waivers if your financial situation meets certain criteria.

 How do I get a waiver?

In 2017, US News and World Report found that the average application fee was $43, and the most common fee was $50. However, some schools charge $75 and up, while others have gone in the opposite direction and waived fees outright.

To get a waiver, first find out if you qualify. You can do this by talking to your high school counselor, who can verify that you have a financial need.

After that, there are several paths to getting application fee waivers.

Direct request

Many college applications include a field where you can request a fee waiver directly.

Colleges are not required to waive fees, but many do. To find out more, visit the college’s website and search “application fee waivers.” You can also call the college’s financial aid office.

National Association for College Admission Counseling

You can fill out the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s waiver request form and send it in with your college applications.

Common App

The Common Application, an undergrad college admission application students can use to apply to more than 700 colleges and universities in the US and beyond, includes a field where you can request a waiver.

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SAT/College Board

Students who have been given — or are eligible for — SAT waivers can apply to any Coalition, Common, or Universal Application college without paying a fee.

If you registered for the SAT or one of the SAT Subject Tests using a fee waiver, you can choose four colleges from the list of more than 2,000 participating colleges and apply for free.

Seniors will receive their waivers when they get their SAT scores, and juniors taking SAT tests will get their waivers in the fall of their senior year.

See also: NitroScore, our powerful tool that allows you to compare schools and majors to determine which are the best buys. 

How many college application fee waivers can I get?

There is no limit to the number of waivers you can receive.

If youre applying to more than four schools, you can use your SAT waivers and then request additional waivers directly from other schools.

If you’re applying to a school that doesnt grant application fee waivers, talk with your high school counselor to find out if there are other programs available that will help.

Check out Nitro’s guide to navigating FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

Published in: Financial Aid

About the Author
Trish Sammer

Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer

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