College is a time of learning, growing, and self-discovery, but all that may come at a high cost before a student even arrives on campus. Rising college application costs could stand in the way of students, their dreams, and their potential.
Thankfully, students have several options for reducing and eliminating the price of college applications. These tips ease the financial stress often involved in applying to an institution of higher learning.
Seek Nonprofit Organizations That Provide Hotspots
Students with limited internet access at home may use their smartphones to fill out and submit college applications. This may trigger overage fees, which cost money that could go toward college.
Rather than carefully account for every second spent using their phone’s data plan, students can seek nonprofit organizations that offer affordable hotspot devices. Companies that provide internet for nonprofits want to uplift underserved communities and connect them to helpful resources.
Even without computer access at home, students can still use the hotspot and their phones to connect with educational organizations. That way, they can get answers to questions about higher education, financial aid, and college applications.
Apply for Fee Waivers
While higher learning institutions offer fee waivers, they often require applicants to demonstrate financial need. Even after qualifying for a waiver, students must often submit documents proving their eligibility. Qualifying for a SAT waiver usually proves an applicant meets the financial requirements for a fee waiver.
Examples of fee waiver eligibility requirements include:
- Receiving public assistance
- Being an orphan or a ward of the state
- Showing a family income below $45,000 for a family of four
- Experiencing homelessness or living in federally subsidized housing or a foster home
Whether a school offers fee waivers as an incentive for students to visit campus or for children or grandchildren of alumni depends on the school. Applicants should check the institution’s latest requirements to know how to proceed.
Sign Up for the Student Search Service
Those who take the SAT or PSAT or an AP test may join the CollegeBoard’s Student Search Service. This program connects students with colleges that have applicants who match the student’s academic profile.
By signing up for the Student Search Service, college-bound students not only find out about new schools, but also learn about local college admissions events. Another boon of joining the service is that some schools send students application fee waivers.
See Which Schools Pay for Visits
To get a better feel for a school and determine whether they want to attend if accepted, students visit college campuses. Depending on where a school is and how many institutions a person wants to apply to, it may not make sense to visit every school on a list.
First-generation and low-income students and students of color may have the chance to visit college campuses for free. Some institutions cover travel fees for qualified students via diversity and fly-in initiatives. For out-of-state institutions and those that don’t cover travel feels, applicants can visit the campus virtually.
Apply to Colleges That Don’t Charge Application Fees
Several schools across the country don’t charge application fees. Even if a fee-free institution isn’t on a student’s list of colleges, it may be worth checking out if it means saving money while getting a great education. Depending on the school, it may accept 40% of applicants and 100 students every year.
Also, most community colleges do not charge application fees. It could make sense for students to attend a local community college and take their core classes while saving up to transfer to their dream institution.
Applying to college does not have to be expensive. When students know all their options for furthering their application, they feel empowered to make well-informed financial decisions.