How to Apply to College for Free
Save money on college applications.
When it comes to applying to college, you’ll soon discover that most institutions require you to pay a fee with your application. Those fees vary, but can cost you $50 or more. Apply to 6 to 8 colleges and you may be out $300 to $500 — a cost that some families may find difficult to bear. Fortunately, there are ways to apply to college for free. Read on and we’ll examine those options here.
1. Apply online — Quite a few college and universities will waive your application fee if you apply online. These schools encourage online applications because paper submissions require special handling. Among the schools that offer free online applications are the U.S. Military Academy, Rhodes College, Xavier University and Saint Louis University. Visit your college’s application page to learn how fees might be avoided or reduced.
2. Ask for a waiver — Simply because a college states that you must pay an application fee, doesn’t mean you cannot seek and obtain a waiver. For instance, at Stanford University you may be able to avoid the $90 application fee if you meet certain College Board guidelines. You need to choose the fee waiver option when applying, and include a fee waiver request form or a letter from your high school counselor.
3. Visit your college — Colleges and universities place a big emphasis on campus visits by prospective students, with some schools showing their appreciation by waiving the application fee. Typically, you cannot informally visit the school and expect a waiver. Instead, you most likely will need to make a formal appointment before being granted a waiver. One school that shows its appreciation to visiting students is Saint Lawrence University. The school updates its computer system following your visit to note that you are eligible for an application fee waiver.
4. Know your state’s free week — You probably have heard of your state’s “tax free week” on purchases of back to school items. What you may not be aware of is that some states also set aside one week annually whereby students can apply to public colleges and universities for free. The College Foundation of North Carolina is one organization that sponsors a week, typically held in mid-November.
Even if a college offers a free application, don’t apply to a college if you have no interest in attending. Schools that offer a free college application do so as a service, but if continually flooded by disinterested applicants, it could eventually pull the offer, costing needy students money.