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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

University/college application fees: a couple of ways to avoid these fees

My two daughters have been in the process of applying for university for next year. As if the tuition alone will not be expensive enough, there are all sorts of fees ahead of us to add to it.

There's the SAT/ACT score forwarding fee, for the standardized exams needed to apply. With the SAT, at least, if you designate which university you want your scores sent to, when you register to take the exam, you are allowed a certain number of universities that your scores are sent to, absolutely free. If you delay deciding to which schools you want your scores sent, until after registration for exams, there is an $11 fee per school. 

We made this mistake with my two daughters. They each applied to 2 schools, costing us $44 for test scores to be sent out. This could have been free to us, had we thought this through from the beginning (chosen our desired schools up front, instead of taking our time to decide). Lesson learned. Now maybe someone else can benefit from our mistake.

The next fee most students will encounter is the actual application fee, due when submitting your application. This can be a hefty charge. However, some schools will waive this fee entirely if you fit certain income requirements. (We didn't. But it's worth checking to see if you do.) 

There's one other way to have this application fee waived at some schools. There is something called the Early Action application. Basically this is where the student submits their application a month or two ahead of the general deadline. For one of my daughters' schools the Early Action deadline was Nov. 15. At this university, if you make the Early Action application, they waive the application fee, for a savings of about $50-60. 

Not all schools offer this incentive, but if your child knows where they want to pursue their university education, and they can put together their application in time, check to see if this is offered. The other bonus this school offered with the Early Action application is they automatically put our daughters into consideration for merit-based scholarships -- one less form to have to fill out.

The other university that my daughters made their applications to was a state university. The only waiver of fees there is based on financial need. And this school has eliminated their Early Action deadline altogether. The cost for each application was $60. That's a pretty hefty fee, just to have a back-up school, should the university of their choosing not work out.

One bonus to these fees related to their applications, as I'm paying for this application, I handed my credit card to each daughter, in turn, to enter all the numbers into their applications submission. My daughters have limited experience with credit cards. This gave me a moment with each to discuss credit cards, expenses, paying off bills in full each month -- it was a teachable moment. So, for $60 each, I got the opportunity to discuss money with my daughters. Who knows, that moment may save hundreds or thousands in my kids' lifetimes.


  1. Sometimes the application fees are also waived if the student had certain academic honors such as National Merit Scholar. Read the fine print on this one.

  2. Ack! This sounds overwhelming! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. Hi Kris,
      We did this 7 years ago with our son. But frankly I don't remember a whole lot of the process. It's been too long.

      So we're just taking it one step at a time. And relying heavily on the admission's contact at the university and the counselor at our high school for information. They really have been helpful and will walk the students through this one step at a time.

      We'll see what comes next!


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