Applying to college is not only time consuming but also very costly. Here’s 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:
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.
1. Initial costs for college application spent on what exactly
2. Colleges that don’t charge Application Fees
3. Fee Waivers, Financial Aid
4. Have a ceiling for your college application
5. 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 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.
To be at the races you might consider having extra tuition. This could indeed be a large expense, even online courses can run to $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
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 financial need you must fall into one of the following categories.
1. Are part of the National School Lunch Programme
2, You 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.
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 by 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 though 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, 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 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 are finished 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 to $800- $1000 per trip.
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.
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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.
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