How to Get Your College Application Fees Waived

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

Fee waiver for college application
Logo

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

When I was a high school senior, my classmates applied to dozens of schools. Dream schools, reach schools, safe schools — they spent hundreds on application fees, even to apply to schools they didn’t really want to attend.

I, on the other hand, was determined to save money. I applied to just three colleges, all of which I knew would accept me. I wanted to compare scholarship offers to find the cheapest one. But applying to the three schools cost me $150, which I wasn’t prepared for.

As I found out, application fees can add up quickly. For low-income students, the cost can prevent them from applying to enough schools, or might cause them to skip college altogether.

That’s why it’s important to know about waiver programs that will cover the cost of your application fees. By finding these programs, you can apply to multiple schools without worrying about finding extra money.

Here’s what you need to know about college application fee waiver programs.

Applying to colleges can cost hundreds

Most college experts recommend that you apply to at least five to eight schools to maximize your chance of a university accepting you and finding a good fit. The average fee to apply is $42, but some schools charge as much as $90. If you applied to eight schools who charge the average fee, you’d pay $336 in fees.

Carrie Warick, director of policy and advocacy at the National College Access Network, said that high costs can make applying to multiple schools impossible for some.

“If they [families] aren’t aware of how to access application fees, which is a burden itself, then they may think they have to consider delaying the payment of a utility bill or purchasing household items or even delaying buying groceries in order to help their student pay for college,” said Warick.

For low-income families where the student is the first in the family to go to college, the application process can seem very strange.

“Families may struggle to accept that they need to pay to be considered as an applicant and not even be admitted, which can feel like a waste of preciously scarce dollars,” said Warick. “Higher fees could also deter low-income students from applying to several institutions, making it hard for them to find the best match.”

How fee waiver programs work

College application fee waiver initiatives play a pivotal role in helping low-income students go to college. There are several programs out there, but many families aren’t aware they exist.

“Lowering all fees would help students think more broadly about where they go to college, but our first target would be to expand the availability and use of fee waivers for low-income students,” said Warick.

These programs completely cover your application fees, so you can search for schools without worrying about the cost of applying to each one. Although not all colleges accept waivers, there are thousands of schools that do.

Some programs require proof of your household’s income, so it’s a good idea to track down paystubs or tax returns ahead of time to streamline the process.

4 college application fee waiver programs

If you’re struggling to come up with the cash to apply to colleges, these programs might be able to help.

1. College Board fee waiver

Income-eligible students can qualify for a waiver for the SAT or SAT subject tests and apply to up to four schools for free.

College Board’s SAT and college application fee waiver program is available to low-income students in their junior or senior year of high school. You are eligible for the waivers if one of the following statements is true:

  • You’re eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Your household income is within the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s Income Eligibility Guidelines.
  • You’re enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families.
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in a foster home.
  • You’re in a federally subsidized public housing program.
  • You’re homeless.
  • You’re a ward of the state or an orphan.

To get the College Board waiver, contact your high school counselor. You’ll need to show proof of eligibility, such as your family’s tax returns or proof of your enrollment in a government program.

2. Common App waiver

Over 700 schools allow students to use the Common Application to apply. By using the application, students can fill out just one application and submit it to all of the schools on their list.

The schools that use the Common Application try to ensure that fees won’t deter students from applying. If you’re in a precarious financial situation, the Common App fee waiver can help.

The Common App waiver has the same eligibility requirements as the College Board waiver.

3. NACAC application fee waiver

To help make college more accessible for all, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) offers a college application fee waiver, as well.

The NACAC waiver has the same eligibility requirements as the waivers from College Board and Common App. However, NACAC requires you to send the application directly to your school of choice.

You can use the NACAC waiver to apply to no more than four schools.

4. Individual college programs

If you are ineligible for the above programs, or you have used your waiver for four schools already, don’t worry — that’s still not the end of the story. You might be able to qualify for a fee waiver directly from the colleges you choose.

Many schools have their own waiver programs, including institutions like Dartmouth and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

School-specific waiver programs can have more flexible eligibility requirements. For example, Dartmouth offers preapproved waivers to military veterans and students who participated in the Dartmouth Bound campus visitation programs.

If you need a waiver, contact the school’s financial aid office and explain your situation. You might be eligible for programs you didn’t know existed.

Affording to apply for college

Choosing a college can be overwhelming and stressful. The last thing you need is to add worrying about the cost of applications to the mix. If application fees are too expensive for you, check out fee waiver programs so you can focus on getting your application (and the dreaded admissions essay) perfect.

Already accepted to your favorite school? If you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay for four years of college (or more), check out this article on scholarships that cover tuition and more.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
** Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).


2 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.

Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.

Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
If you are unable to pay your government loan, the government can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount. In addition, the government has special powers to collect the loan, such as taking your tax refund and applying it to your loan balance.

A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If you refinance your government loan, your new lender will use the proceeds of your new loan to pay off your government loan. Private student loan lenders do not have to honor any of the benefits that apply to government loans. Because your government loan will be gone after refinancing, you will lose any benefits that apply to that loan. If you are an active-duty service member, your new loan will not be eligible for service member benefits. Most importantly, once you refinance your government loan, you will not able to reinstate your government loan if you become dissatisfied with the terms of your private student loan.

If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of government loans, a refinance of your government loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before you refinance.

If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.

Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.


5 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown ARE FOR THE UNDERGRADUATE LOAN AND include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest INTEREST RATE OFFERED ON THE DISCOVER UNDERGRADUATE LOAN and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates.html for more information about interest rates.
3.99% – 11.44%1Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Earnest

3.98% – 11.35%*,2Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

3.96%
11.98%
3
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

3.66% – 9.64%4Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit CommonBond

3.87%
11.87%
**,5
Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

You're on your way...

We'll take you to Lendingtree.com where you'll be able to fill out one form to get multiple personal loan offers, based on your creditworthiness.