College Application So Expensive

Applying to college is not only time consuming but also very costly. Here are the main costs that are involved.

Colleges must employ administration people to read your application. Your fees cover these costs. Costs included in your application process:

  • SAT
  • ACT
  • Subject Tests
  • College Application Fees

Going to college should not be prohibitive because of finances. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Find that way. Read on to see what’s involved.
Initial costs for college application spent on what exactly
Colleges that don’t charge Application Fees
Fee Waivers, Financial Aid
Have a ceiling for your college application
What else is there to pay for?

Initial costs for college application spent on what exactly

Your costs for applying to college can start as early as junior year. To sit your SAT is going to cost $49.50 ($64.50 with an essay). If you go the ACT route it will cost $50.50 ($67 with writing). If you, like most, decide to take the test 3-4 times well the cost is now upwards of $200.
To receive your scores ( after the first four free ones) is $12 per report. Additional costs such as Rush reports (SAT $31/ report). Sitting subject tests are $22/ test, but also $26 to register. Taking AP tests, will definitely boost your future tuition but added to everything else at $94/ exam they may not be feasible or worth it.

In relation to this, I have also written the following posts on ACT / SAT / GPA;

Should I take both the SAT and ACT

Taking SAT first time senior year

Are SAT subject tests hard?

To be at the races you might consider having extra tuition. This could indeed be a large expense, even online courses can run from $800 – $1200.

Although the Common App process is free, most colleges, more than half, charge an application fee. The average is $45-$50. More selective and Ivy League Schools can cost up to $90 per application. Some but not all high schools may have a fee for sending transcripts to colleges. This is dependent on your school, so you should enquire with the school office or your counselor if this is the case.

So you haven’t even had a college offer and already the costs are spiraling. Here’s how to keep them in check.

Colleges That Don’t Charge An Application Fee

Although more than half of colleges do charge there is a huge amount that doesn’t. If you have a particular school in mind, check if it has an application fee. If it doesn’t ‘happy days’, however, if it does, don’t discount it because of this reason. If this is where you really want to go to school then spend the money. You can also find similar schools on the no fee list. There are always alternatives to by passing this fee.

Fee Waivers / Financial Aid

If you are from a low-income family there is a high chance that you qualify for a fee waiver. This waiver could include your application fees but also your test fees. If you are applying for a waiver based on a financial need you must fall into one of the following categories.
1. Are part of the National School Lunch Programme
2. Your family is in receipt of public assistance
3. Your family’s income is within the eligibility guidelines
4. You are fostered, homeless, or living in public housing

These are all quite specific and many students find that they don’t belong in any of these categories but still are finding the College Application process too expensive to continue. So what can you do? Don’t give up. There are options. Each school is different and will have different policies. It’s always worth putting pen to paper and asking for a waiver.
Explain your financial predicament.

Accepted to college but can’t afford it, is another one of my posts that you may be interested din reading. It touches on different financial option for going to college.

Other schools may have policies that need a bit of digging – did either of your parents go to your dream school? They may have a legacy policy. Are your grades out of the park? They may be delighted to waive your fee if they think they are getting a star pupil.

Simply visiting the school sometimes can lead to a waiver. Not all schools offer this, usually, it is applicable on specific open days.

Have a ceiling for your college application

If you read the previous heading and don’t fall into the financial need category then you need to be smart about your application. When you register for the Common App (most schools now use this process) there is the option to apply to up to 20 schools.
Of course, you can apply to 20 schools but it’s really not necessary. You should aim to apply to 4-6 schools. They should be split into safety, reality, and dream. If your dream is an Ivy, then of course apply, even if finances are a talking point. Many Ivies offer financial aid through grants and loans. But don’t put all your choices as Ivies. Even out your choices, be sure that if you are offered a school that it is somewhere you really want to attend.

The more schools you apply to, obviously the higher your application costs will be. Even if your schools have a ‘no fee’ policy, it’s still going to cost score fees, transcript, and tutoring. If you have a ceiling in place, your costs won’t get out of control. By all means, start out with 15-20 schools on paper.

Do your research, have a list of questions: cost of tuition, cost of board, cost of travel… and then go through the positives of each school: why you really like it, choice of classes, location of the campus. Use your list to reduce your schools to 5-6. These should be the ones you apply to.

What else is there to pay for?

When you have finished with your application there are a few other costs you need to be mindful of.

Depending on where you are applying to, you may have to go and visit the school for an interview. Or you may just want to go and get a feel for it. This trip could involve an airline, (most definitely some kind of travel cost), the hire of a car on arrival, hotel costs, food… you’re probably not going alone. This could run from $800- $1000 per trip.

You also need to budget for your enrolment fee. When you are paying this you are well on the way to college. This fee means that you have selected a college. The colleges require the fee so they can start planning their numbers for classes and student housing. Most colleges are approximately $100 – $200 but some can be as much as $1000, so again make sure it’s a question you ask when you apply to a school.

Applying to college is expensive. Costs can go up and up and before you know it your budget is blown. Most families don’t have an endless supply of money for college applications. Your parents will want to do their very best for you but there are always other bills to pay.

In saying that, they also will want the very best for your college education, so the key is to plan ahead. Work out your budget and stick to it.

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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