4 Ways to Save Money on College Application Fees

4 Ways to Save Money on College Application Fees

Kim Pinnelli

by Kim Pinnelli
Senior Contributing Writer

December 19, 2022
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4 Ways to Save Money on College Application Fees

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Saving for college doesn't just mean room/board and tuition today. Now, college students and parents must pay college application fees. What used to be free now has a fee, possibly limiting the number of colleges your child applies to because of it.

Fortunately, there are ways to save money on college application fees. Here's how.

Average Cost of College Application Fees

According to U.S. News annual survey, the average college application fee is $45, but some get as high as $100. So if students apply to a handful of colleges, that's $225 - $500 just to apply and find out if they're accepted.

So how do you lower those fees?

Lowering College Application Fees

Ask for a Waiver

Some colleges offer application fee waivers just for asking for them. You won't know unless you ask; the worst they can say is 'no.' Many colleges waive the fees to avoid the obstacle to applying to their college, and others warrant them based on merit, such as good academic standing or coming from a veteran family.

If the colleges your child applies to don't offer the waiver 'just because,' there are other ways to save money.

Find Colleges that Don't Charge an Application Fee

Not all colleges charge an application fee. Do your research and see who doesn't charge one, such as state schools.

Also, some colleges that normally charge an application fee have a window of opportunity where everyone can apply for free. So take advantage of this early application process and save money on your applications.

Talk to Admissions Before Applying

It's a good idea to do college visits or at least attend college fairs to narrow your choices and get in front of admissions experts. On your travels, you may come across admissions specialists who will waive the fee for you or tell you the best way to lower them at their college. The insider information can be invaluable when applying to college.

Be Intentional about Where you Apply

It can be fun to apply to all colleges just to see who accepts you, but today it might cost too much money. Instead, narrow your options to those colleges whose admission requirements you meet and where you think you have the best chance of acceptance. Save the 'shot in the dark' applications for one or two after you've lowered your application fees at the colleges you'll most likely attend.

Final Thoughts

Saving money on college application fees isn't as overwhelming as it seems. The key is to research, talk to as many people as you can at the college you plan to attend as possible, and apply early.

Many application waivers are based on income, and others are first-come-first-serve. Therefore, the earlier you apply and ask for the waiver, the more likely you'll get it. If you wait until the college has already handed out admissions, they may not need as many students and therefore won't be as giving with their waivers.