Getting College Application Fees Waived

If you can't afford college application fees, you may be able to get them eliminated. All you need to do is ask for a fee "waiver."

You might have many reasons for not applying to a college. But not affording the application fee doesn't have to be one of them. Fee waivers are available to eligible students, and you can get them from a variety of sources.

How to Qualify for Application Fee Waivers

You will qualify for a college application fee waiver if any of the following statements are true:

  • You have received or are eligible to receive an ACT or SAT testing fee waiver.
  • You are enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program (FRPL).
  • Your family's annual income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

You may also qualify based on your high school counselor's personal knowledge of your family circumstances.

How to Apply for College Application Fee Waivers

If the college offers application fee waivers (not all colleges do), instructions for how to apply should be included in the college's application or on its website. You can also access fee waiver forms through the Common Application, the Universal College Application, the Coalition Application, the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and your counselor's office. Many colleges will also accept a written request from you or your counselor.

Counselor Approval is Required

Your fee waiver application must be signed by your high school counselor or another school official. He or she may ask to see proof that you meet one or more of the qualifications. Colleges do not have to honor your request, and they might review your FAFSA or ask for other verification of your qualifications.

Qualifying through the ACT or SAT

If you qualified for an ACT or SAT test fee waiver, you will be eligible for college application fee waivers as well. The eligibility criteria are the same. The ACT provides an application fee waiver form on its website that students may send to any number of colleges; eligible students taking the SAT receive four application fee waivers.

What's Next?