Everyone knows that college is a costly affair. You could probably ask a six year old how much they think college costs and they’d offer up an outrageous number that could be tragically accurate. And the trouble with paying for college that it starts before you even get accepted anywhere. It starts with the application process, averaging $38 per application (or higher, depending on the school). With most students applying to up to seven different institutions at a time, the costs have burned a hole in their wallets before a major can be declared. Fortunately, there are ways to save while applying to college, and here are some of those tips.
Early Admission Applications
When you already know what your number one “Please Universe Let This Be The One With An Acceptance Letter” school is, try applying for early admission. If the universe is indeed on your side and you’re accepted, you won’t have to send in expensive applications to the other six schools that you only kind of wouldn’t mind going to. This will also save you a world of stress, and it could improve any applications that you still send out to other schools.
Ask About Fee Waivers
Take the initiative and call up an admissions counselor at the school you’re applying to. The worst case scenario is that they’ll say “No,” and then you can move on with your life. There’s a life lesson to be had here as well: Never be afraid to ask questions. You can also ask your school counselor about it, and if you have a great working relationship with them, they could reach out to the schools on your behalf.
Take a Campus Tour
Here’s another life lesson that will extend beyond college: showing up in person and displaying your earnest and genuine interest in something speaks volumes. Taking a campus tour is always a good idea, since it lets you get a firsthand feeling for whether or not the college is a good fit for you. It also has the added bonus of letting that school know that your interest in them is serious, and that could make them more willing to send you an application fee waiver. Make sure you talk to other students at that school or admissions counselors to find out about opportunities to go on tours.
Include Your Test Scores on Your Transcripts
Most colleges require you to submit official SAT and/or ACT scores straight from the testing source, which only helps pile on fees on the applicant. There are a few ways to avoid that additional cost. Firstly, try asking your high school to put those test scores right on your transcript. Many colleges will accept that as an official record. Second, find out if the testing service will waive the fee for you. Generally this will only happen if you’re in financial straights, but it never hurts to ask.
Apply to Colleges with Free Online Applications
Fortunately, not every college out there charges its potential students to apply, and these ones are good to check out while searching for schools. But even if your top school doesn’t have free online applications, there’s still a chance that they can waive your application fees if you apply online. Why would that be the case? It saves the school from having to hire someone to physically enter the application information.
Use the Common Application
Lots of colleges make use of the common application (or the Common App, as it’s called), which is great for students since it allows them to fill out one application form and send it out to all of their prospective colleges. This saves on time to be sure, but unfortunately it might not necessarily save money, since there is still a one-time application fee for every school applied to. Some colleges do still offer a free pass just by using the Common App, so make sure to ask the admission counselors.