Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

One of the most common pieces of advice people give to those going through the college admissions process is to apply to a variety of schools, while keeping up a solid ratio between safeties, matches, and reaches. Upon researching, however, people discover that application fees run high, as do the costs associated with not only taking the SAT or ACT but sending those scores.

Of course, this understandably discourages many who don’t know what their other options are. College organizations recognize that financial circumstances should never be a barrier to the admissions process, and they’re here to help by administering fee waivers. The three major ones which offer such that I’m going to talk about are CollegeBoard, NACAC, and Common App.

CollegeBoard

What do they offer?

Waivers for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and college applications

Who qualifies?

Low-income students in the U.S. or U.S. territories! SAT fee waivers are available to 11th and 12th grade students, and SAT Subject Test fee waivers are available to those in grades 9 through 12.

According to CollegeBoard, if any of these statements apply to you, you are automatically eligible to qualify for them:

  • You’re enrolled in or eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You’re enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in federally subsidized public housing or a foster home, or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

What do they cover?

The registration fee for up to two SATs, two SAT Subject Tests, four limited-time score reports, and more, including four college application fee waivers!

How can I get them?

Talk to your guidance counselor, who will likely become your greatest asset during this process. He or she has access and can connect you to the necessary resources and documents. You will need to provide some proof of eligibility if such has not been made previously available to your counselor, which applies to the NACAC and Common App fee waivers as well. If you’re homeschooled, no worries — just contact a local high school counselor and be prepared to provide some kind of proof of eligibility.

A major added bonus is that once you obtain the SAT fee waivers, you’ll automatically get four college application fee waivers. If you’re a senior, you’ll get the college application fee waivers when you get your SAT scores. Took it as a junior? They’ll be coming your way the fall of your senior year.

National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

What do they offer? 

A Request for Application Fee Waiver Form, which you can access here.

Who qualifies?

The same criteria the CollegeBoard upholds applies to the NACAC as well.

What do they cover?

College application fees. While the NACAC recommends limiting the form’s use to four schools, that’s not a strict rule by any means — my counselor was really lax about it, so I was able to use it for eight schools without a problem.

How can I get them?

Again, your guidance counselor! This is extra important because the form needs to be signed and pressed with your school’s seal as a means of verification. Then, mail it to the admissions office of whatever college or university you’re applying to. Homeschooled students should contact an official at a local high school to obtain their signature.

Common App

What do they offer?

Application fee waivers!

Who qualifies?

The same criteria the CollegeBoard and NACAC uphold applies, but a supporting statement from some type of official, like a counselor or community leader, will also be accepted.

What do they cover?

Application fees for whatever college you’re applying to that is a member of the Common App.

How can I get them?

Unlike the other two, this one is completely electronic. One of the questions in the Profile section of the Common App asks whether you feel your financial circumstances would qualify you for a fee waiver, and all you have to do is indicate so. This information then reaches your guidance counselor who verifies it.

That’s it for the basic run-down, but here’s some other general information that’s just as important to know:

  • Keep in mind that while many schools accept application fee waivers, there are some that don’t. Here’s a handy database from CollegeBoard you can use and refer to during your search.
  • Check your email! Some schools send out fee waivers by way of special codes, which you can enter into wherever it is that you’re applying. Fordham did this during my senior year, which was a great incentive for many of my friends and myself to learn more about the school and apply.
  • Keep checking in with your guidance counselor to verify that your documents and other necessary items have been processed without a problem. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation in which something went astray after it’s too late to fix it — communication is one of the most critical parts of this process.

Hopefully, this article provided some of you with relief that you may not have to break the bank to get through applying to college. Best of luck to everyone moving forward with it!



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