Applying for colleges can be a long and difficult process. It can discourage many prospective students while they are on the way to making a big decision about which college to choose. The cost of college admissions can also be significant to many students. There are ways to avoid the additional costs and steps in the application process. Before applying for college, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the costs of applying and learn what you can do to avoid them.
For many people, application costs are a barrier
When you submit your college application, you will frequently be charged an application fee. This method needs to be changed at several stages. Colleges continued to collect an application fee of roughly $44 in 2020, even throughout the outbreak. Although it might not seem important, many students apply to between 5 and 8 universities, and you should be aware that some students apply to more than 10 universities.
Some colleges, especially exclusive private schools, charge fees ranging from $70-$100 to apply. According to US News, the average of the 62 schools that charged the most was about $78 on average, and 24 of these 62 schools charged more than that. Several of the national universities rated in the top 10 in the nation, such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, were among those charging above-average fees. Students may feel discouraged from applying to additional schools, especially ‘reach’ schools like these, if they think it is not worth the money.
One way to avoid paying application fees is to reduce the number of schools that you apply to. Through campus visits and online research, it’s possible to narrow down which schools you should apply to in your senior year. However, this doesn’t mean you need to decide which college or university to go to ahead of time, especially since you may not get into your chosen school. Choose to apply to a mix of 5-8 schools that best suit your higher learning goals without paying fees to schools you are not considering strongly.
Another option is to apply for waived fees due to financial hardship. Students that come from lower-income families can avoid paying application fees if they can demonstrate that the cost of the fee is a burden on their application process. There are several approaches to waiving the fee. Per the College Board, students who took the SAT exam and got the fee waived due to their income level will be informed of how to get application fee waivers for college applications to over 2000 schools.
You can also use search their site for colleges that accept waivers to be sure. Schools may have their own policies for waiving fees, and students who received free or reduced-cost lunches in high school may be eligible. Fees may also be waived for in-state students for public colleges and universities that encourage in-state applicants.
Apply to Multiple Colleges at Once
Over the past decades, more and more colleges support methods to apply to multiple colleges with a single application. The Common Application, Coalition App, and Universal Application let you input application information only once and then choose the eligible colleges and universities that you want to apply for, provided they support the shared application process. Only a single application essay based on a broad, standard prompt question is used, so you don’t have to write multiple essays for admission. This takes a huge burden off of students who are exhausted by the application process.
The Common App and other options also streamline the process of paying application fees and getting them waived when possible. They require schools to provide support for waiving fees based on student family income and make it easy to request a waiver through their websites.
Since Common and Coalition Apps bring down the difficulty of applying and paying for applications, it’s recommended that most students who are starting the application process familiarize themselves with their websites and learn which schools support the shared applications. Seeing that a school supports the Common App can make that school a more attractive application option by far.
As you can see, while it can be intimidating to see the obstacles to applying to multiple colleges, it is still worth the effort to get a variety of options and apply to the schools that best suit your goals. Research schools carefully to see if you can apply with minimal fees and effort, and you will be able to find the right higher education institution for you.