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Do you worry about paying the costs associated with the college application process? You’re not alone! We have compiled a list of resources to help offset those costs. Some of the opportunities mentioned can be utilized by all students regardless of family income level. Whereas, others may be reserved for families who demonstrate a certain level of financial need.

Test Prep

Earning a high score on the SAT and/or ACT is a huge component of your college application, and prepping for these tests is probably at the top of your college to-do list. The better prepared you are, the better you will perform on these tests. Unfortunately, test prep programs can often come with a hefty price tag. If you plan to take the SAT, a great free resource for all students is Khan Academy. For the ACT, we recommend ACT Academy, which is also free!

Essays

Another huge component of your college application is crafting the perfect essay. Chances are, you already have the resources you need to conquer this without opening your wallet. First, we recommend enlisting the feedback of a trusted adult; your English teacher is typically a good option. If you have an older friend who was admitted to their dream school, they might be a good resource as well. When utilizing the help of others, be respectful of their time by providing your essay well in advance of the due date. You don’t want to scramble to complete their suggestions.

Test Fee Waivers

As you may already know, taking the ACT and SAT comes with a cost. However, you may qualify for fee waivers based on your family’s income. You may be able to waive the cost of two attempts at both the ACT and SAT test. For the SAT, here is more information. For the ACT, here is more information on the qualifications, the application, and other details.

Application Fees

Application fees can get really expensive, really fast, especially if you have an extensive list of schools you are applying to. These fees typically range anywhere from $25-$90 per application. Colleges want to ensure the application fee doesn’t pose a barrier for you to submit your application, so there are several ways to have your application fee potentially waived:

  • If you qualify for the SAT fee waiver, you qualify for 4 application fee waivers (at participating colleges).
  • If you qualify for the ACT fee waiver, your counselor can fill out the application fee waiver request form on your behalf, and submit this to colleges you are applying to. It is at the discretion of each college to approve this, so just keep that in mind.
  • If you are applying using the Common App, here is more information on waiving application fees.
  • Some college admissions counselors have a limited amount of fee waivers they can give out at their discretion for special circumstances. There is no harm in politely asking if this is a possibility for you. Be prepared with a valid explanation as to why you need it waived. Don’t expect that your wish can always be granted, but there’s no harm in asking.

Campus Visit Vouchers/Fly-In Programs

Visiting a college campus in-person is an important step in determining your best fit. Luckily some schools are able to offer campus visit vouchers and fly-in programs to help reduce these costs. These programs are typically reserved for admitted students and will usually only cover a portion of the costs associated with your campus visit, but can definitely be a big help! If you are super interested in a college, but visiting campus isn’t financially feasible, ask the admissions officer if the school offers any programs like this.

Even if a college doesn’t offer a campus visit voucher/fly-in program, there are ways to visit at a low-cost. Check to see if there is an admitted student event that offers free lodging on-campus for students during the visit. This is a win-win because you don’t have to pay for a place to stay and you get to experience dorm living. You may also want to coordinate with your friends to see if they want to visit any of the same campuses. That way, you can all split costs and have a road trip buddy! 

Additionally, be sure to fill out the FAFSA (each year you are in college) and apply for scholarships to be as financially savvy as possible. Don’t let all of the costs associated with college be a deterrent for pursuing your college dreams!