Most high school counselors recommend that students apply to five to eight colleges. In 2017, US News and World Report found that the average application fee was $43, and the most common fee was $50. So yeah, those costs can add up quickly.
But there’s good news: you can request application fee waivers if your financial situation meets certain criteria. Your first step is to meet with your high school guidance counselor.
How do I get a waiver?
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.
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.
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.
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 you’re 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 doesn’t 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.