Top 25 Best Colleges Without Application Fees | 2020 Rankings

Top 25 colleges without application fees

Students applying to colleges know all too well how quickly application fees add up, especially when applying to multiple schools. Prices can range from $20 to upwards of $60! It can get quite expensive, especially on top of other fees like ACT and SAT tests.

But did you know that some colleges don’t charge application fees at all?

For this list, we’ve featured the highest ranked colleges that don’t require a fee just for applying. 

Keep in mind, some of these schools might charge for graduate school applications—though many do not!

These colleges have a lot to offer; no app fees is the icing on the cake! Check them out below!

Best Colleges without Application Fees

This women’s college, located just north of Lake Wabash, is regarded as having the largest network of women alumni in the world. Notable alumni include: Nora Ephron, Hillary Clinton, and Diane Sawyer. The college does not impose an application fee. It’s a very selective school, with only 20% of applicants admitted in.
Location Wellesley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,534
Unlike many colleges, Carleton follows a trimester system, running on a 10-week term. Between 2000 and 2016, the school has been home to 122 National Science Graduate Fellows. Computer Science, Biology, Economics, International Relations, and Chemistry are the top five most popular majors.
Location Northfield, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,097
The United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the five service academies in the US. Its motto is “Deeds not Words” and the official school colors are blue and gray. There is no undergraduate application fee and the academy is on a trimester calendar. The US Merchant Marine Academy offers six residence halls, and students are required to live on campus.
Location Kings Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,015
Colby College is home to Morty the Mule, beloved mascot of the Mules sports teams. The average ACT and SAT scores of incoming students ranges between 31--33 and 1,350--1,510. Approximately 48% of students receive grant aid. Colby has a six year graduation rate of 90%.
Location Waterville, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,000
Unlike many colleges, Grinnell does not require students to pay an application fee. The average ACT and SAT scores are between 30--34 and 1,370--1,530 respectively. Grinnell has graduated a number of notable people---including comedian Kumail Nanjiani, actor Gary Cooper, and musician Herbie Hancock.
Location Grinnell, IA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,716
Tulane University does not require undergraduate students to pay an application fee. On average, incoming students have an average ACT and SAT test score of 30--33 and 1,350--1,490. Their motto, Non Sibi Sed Suis, translates from Latin to English to mean “Not for oneself, but for one's own.”
Location New Orleans, LA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,646
As a women’s school, Smith College has an all female population, accepting over 1,500 students out of approximately 5,800 applicants. The selectivity of the school may explain the small class sizes, with about 9 students for every 1 faculty member. The top 5 most popular majors include Experimental Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Biology, and Engineering.
Location Rochester, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,903
Kenyon College’s colors are purple and white. Unlike many other schools, students get different nicknames based on their gender; the women’s teams are known as the Ladies, and the men’s teams are known as the Lords. Kenyon does not require students to pay an application fee.
Location Gambier, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,730
The college’s motto is “Learning and Labor.” Oberlin college lives by their motto, offering 50 majors, minors and concentrations. Oberlin alumni include Rhodes Scholars, Nobel laureates, and MacArthur fellows. The Academic calendar runs on a 4-1-4 plan; full semesters are 4 months long, with 1 month mini-sessions in between.
Location Oberlin, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,812
Unlike many schools, Union’s motto is French---“Sous les lois de Minerve nous devenons tous frères et sœurs”---which means “Under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters.” Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom. Students at this college wear only one school color: Union garnet.
Location Schenectady, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,197
Connecticut College was founded in 1911 and was originally a women’s college, before becoming co-ed in 1969. Today, men make up around 39% of the student body, and women make up the other 61%. Their motto is “Tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum,” or “Like a tree planted by rivers of water.”
Location New London, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,844
Established in 1848, Rhodes College is fairly selective, with an acceptance rate of 45%. The school does not require undergraduate applicants to pay an application fee. Popular majors include Business, Biology, Psychology, and Neuroscience. The school’s colors are cardinal and black.
Location Memphis, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,036
Denison is the second-oldest liberal arts college in Ohio, and is a rather selective school. The average ACT and SAT scores of admitted students is between 28--31 and 1,210--1,380 respectively. The school has a four year graduation rate of 82% and smaller class sizes, with 9 students for every 1 faculty member.
Location Granville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,394
At Reed College, the top three most popular majors include English, Multi-Interdisciplinary Studies, and Biology. The college also provides students with on-campus housing, with over a dozen residence facilities throughout campus. 98% of the students on campus are undergraduates, with only 20 grads on campus.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,503
St. Olaf’s school colors are black and gold. The school’s mascot is a lion, known as Ole. Popular majors include Biology, Economics, Psychology, and Mathematics. The school has a four year graduation rate of 82%. Class sizes are relatively small, with 12 students for every one faculty member.
Location Northfield, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,048
This college’s motto, translated from Latin, means “Learning is the Light of the Mind.” It’s fitting, then, that their official school colors are white and yellow. Since the bachelor’s is the highest degree offered, you’ll find only undergraduate students on campus. They have 510 student athletes competing at the college.
Location Danville, KY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,434
Unlike other schools, Thomas Aquinas practices the Great Books and seminar educational method, focusing on reading books focused in Western culture in small class sizes. Thomas Aquinas has only one degree program, a BA in Liberal Arts. The school has a class size of approximately 11 students to every 1 faculty member.
Location Santa Paula, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 407
Trinity’s most popular majors are Mass Communication, Finance, and Political Science and Government. Additionally, this university has been applauded for its sustainability efforts as a member of the Presidents Climate Commitment. It’s considered a selective school, with a 34% acceptance rate.
Location San Antonio, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,637
St. John’s College offers a unique education through the Program. Students are expected to read and discuss Western literature of all subjects, and the majority of their other classes are discussion-based, including labs. St. John’s College deemphasizes the traditional grading scale.
Location Annapolis, MD
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 527
Kalamazoo does not have an application fee and accepts approximately 73% of students who apply. Approximately, 99% of students receiving grant aid. Most Kalamazoo students study one semester abroad, and spend one semester in an academic internship---this is known as the K Plan.
Location Kalamazoo, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,467
Sewanee’s school motto may be long, but it is powerful. Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum: “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Economics, Psychology, English, International Studies, and History are the most popular major on this campus.
Location Sewanee, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,785
Known as a fairly selective school, Saint Louis University---also known as SLU---accepts about 58% of the applications they received every year. Incoming freshmen score an average of 25--31 on the ACT and an average of 1,180--1,370 on the SAT. For every 9 SLU students, there is 1 faculty member.
Location Saint Louis, MO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 14,438
Known as the Titans, student athletes at Illinois Wesleyan University wear green and white while competing. A total of 539 athletes play for the school, and IL Wesleyan is classified within the NCAA Division III (with football). This school does not have an application fee for undergraduate students.
Location Bloomington, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,693
Ursinus College’s student population spans the globe, with students from 12 countries. Popular majors pursued by Ursinus students include Biology, Applied Economics, and Psychology. Ursinus is also home to The Lantern, one of the longest running student literary journals in the country.
Location Collegeville, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,435
Students at Baylor go by the nicknames of the Bears or Lady Bears. The nickname is fitting considering that Baylor’s current mascots are two real bears who live on campus. The spirit of the Bears can be seen at the dozens of sports games Baylor partakes in, with over 575 student athletes playing for the university.
Location Waco, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,217

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

Methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

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