One of the biggest expenses a family has to encounter is paying to put their children through college. These expenses can start even before the child starts college with the college application process. By completing a large number of applications, all with their associated fees, a family can end up spending thousands of dollars just on the college application process. There are ways to save on these fees or even avoid them altogether.
Plan ahead and narrow the list of college applications by choosing to apply on to the schools that best demonstrate the type of curriculum the student is interested in attending. Look for the best fit from an academic, financial, and social aspect. Ideally, the list should be narrowed down to the top three or four schools before the student starts sending out college applications. This will drastically reduce the cost associated with college application fees. Furthermore, it might be a good idea to visit the school before applying to find out whether it is truly the right fit for the student.
Apply on the school’s website
Applying to college online is beneficial on the school’s part. Online applications are faster and much easier to process. To encourage students to apply online, some universities and colleges will waive the application fee if the student applies online on the college’s website. Check with the college to see if this or other discounts apply before submitting an application.
University fee waivers
Applying at the right time may be a way to get the college application fee waived. Some schools waive application fees during “College Application Week.” Also, many universities will waive the fees for students who fill out an early application.
Check with the student’s high school guidance counselor to find out is they know of any ways to apply to colleges for free. Many colleges and universities work with high school guidance counselors to offer low-income families the option of applying to colleges without an application fee. Furthermore, students may qualify for a college fee waiver by completing forms available. Families can also check to see which schools waive fees. Even if colleges that end up on the student’s short list do not offer university fee waivers as a general rule, talking with a registration counselor may help. The registration counselor may be able to gain permission to have the application fees waived, especially for students who have high scores on the SAT or ACT college tests.
There is normally an application process for university or college fee waivers. If the family is having a financial hardship or is a low-income family, they may be able to qualify. Some colleges will also accept a letter from the student’s high school guidance counselor explaining the family’s financial situation.
Deferred application fee
Even if the college does not offer to waive the application fee altogether, they may still be able to defer the fee until the student has been accepted and is enrolled in classes. This may provide enough time to gather the necessary funds to pay for the college application fee and other associated costs. Students who qualified for federally guaranteed student loans or Pell grants may even be able to use some of this money to pay for the application fees. There is normally an application process to apply for an application fee deferral. The criteria for applying for deferrals is to be able to demonstrate some type of financial hardship.
Save on testing services
Another huge expense to parents of college age students is the fee for testing for college with the SAT or ACT tests. One way to save money during the college application process is to ask whether the college or university will accept scores that are reported on a student’s high school transcript. This way, parents can avoid paying the testing service to send out scores to various colleges and universities. There are even colleges that no longer require ACT or SAT scores for application. By checking out the Fair Test website, parents can find universities and colleges which no longer require these scores.
If avoiding these tests is not an option, start preparing early. One great free preparation is the question-a-day services such as the one offered by the College Board here, which should be started in the junior of sophomore year. If more instruction is needed, consider using the cheaper online preparation courses instead of those offered in a formal classroom. In addition, the most cost-effective way to prepare is often to take the test twice, since the first time offers great a practice that frequently beats regular instruction in its effectiveness. Regardless, the final test should be taken immediately after preparing before what has been learned is forgotten.
In addition, be sure to register early for the testing services to avoid late fees.
Have documentation in order
When all the documentation is ready to go at any time, it can save money and reflect positively on the applicant. Ask for letters of recommendation well in advance so that they can be submitted as soon as they are needed. If a high school resume is needed, there are lots of examples and advice online that will enable anyone create their own for free.
By spending a little time researching the various ways to save on college application fees, parents will find that they don’t have to go broke trying to find the appropriate school for their child to attend. This will be money that can be saved and used towards other college expenses.