How to Avoid College Application Fees

Save some money and avoid college application fees

Flickr user 401(k)2012

Part of the college application process is paying all those darn fees… Or is it? Here are some ways you can avoid paying application fees.

Attend a Campus Visit

Some schools have arranged for application fee waivers if you arrange (and attend) a campus visit day. It’s best to do this through the school rather than just randomly showing up. When you call admissions to set up your visit day, make inquiries as to whether they offer the application fee waiver.

Apply Online

Some schools waive the application fee if you apply online rather than with a paper application. Check out the school’s website, as it should advertise there whether they participate in this sort of fee waiver.

Alumni Are Your Friends

If your parent or sibling attended a school you are interested in, you can sometimes get your application fee waived. Schools like legacies. While parents and siblings are the most common, you can ask the school’s alumni or admissions office if it will waive the fee if some other relative attended.

Find Colleges with No Application Fees

They exist! These colleges tend to be smaller or religiously affiliated, but some schools understand that application fees can really bite into a potential student’s budget. Here is a list of some colleges with no application fee.


If you have top-tier worthy grades and scores, but you want to apply to a college that doesn’t have such strict admissions standards, you might be able to negotiate a fee waiver. By calling the school before applying and telling them “You’re my number one school, here are my test scores and GPA,” you can ask if you can receive a fee waiver as part of your package. Remember, schools with lower admissions standards like to give incentives for highly qualified students to attend. Just remember to be polite and request, don’t demand.

Have Proof of Financial Hardship

If you qualify for free/reduced school lunches or got a fee waiver for the SAT, you’re pretty much a shoe-in for four application fee waivers. Talk with your school guidance counselor, as they have to sign off on any income-related fee waivers. There are several ways to qualify, especially if you are using the Common Application.

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