The college process can be extremely demanding and expensive, especially if you apply to a lot of colleges. Besides the tears of frustration you will shed (okay, I may be exaggerating… or not) as you try to craft your college essays, you will also have to spend some money to have those essays-- and the rest of your applications read by college admissions. Nothing in this life is free, but fortunately for you, there are ways to avoid those hefty fees.
I applied to 22 colleges, yet I spent $0. I am expert at avoiding fees, if I do say so myself.
Before I let you know on my secrets-- well, they’re not really secrets since other students know about them them-- it is important you know what components of your applications need payment. Drum roll: College Application, SAT/ACT Official Score reports, CSS Profile and Art Supplements. You probably have an idea of what the first one is; a college application is pretty self explanatory. What about the rest of the list? What are SAT/ACT Official Score Reports and CSS Profile? Don’t worry, I got you covered.
College Application Fees
Each school will require an application, that can be completed online through the Common App, Universal College Application or a college-specific application. College application fees can vary from around $0 to $100. The cost of applying can quickly accumulate, but those fees can be reduced through various ways.
Note: Make sure to remind your counselor to sign the fee waivers!
SAT/ACT Score Reports
By now, you probably have taken or are thinking about taking the dreaded SAT or ACT. (May the odds be ever in your favor, really). In addition to the mental pain it will cause you, you will have to pay to send official score reports to the colleges you will be applying to. Official scores are just your scores sent by the company that administer whichever test you're taking to the college you apply. They may include college and career planning, and predictions about your future college performance. In short, it’s just a way for those companies to earn more money.
It costs $12.00 to send ACT scores to one school, and $11.25 to send SAT scores to one school.
How do you avoid those fees?
Dear (school name or admissions officer name)
Hello, my name is (your name). I am a senior at (Name of High School, District, State). I am a Questbridge Finalist (only write if you are a finalist), and I am planning to apply to (Name of College). However, I feel as though sending an official score report places an undue financial burden on me; consequently, I was wondering if there was any kind of alternative where (Name of College) will accept my SAT/ACT scores? (Naviance, screenshots, score report signed by counselor, etc)?
The majority of the schools I emailed allowed me to send unofficial scores, as long as they were on my transcript or were sent by my counselor. It saved me so much money! I do recommend however, to start emailing them ahead of time, don’t leave this for the last minute, because it will give you an idea of how much you will end up having to pay.
Note: Remember to send them small email thanking them, whether they let you sent unofficial scores or not. It shows courtesy!
According to the College Board, the CSS Profile is “an online application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government.” Many private institutions will ask you to submit the CSS Profile to determine your financial award package. It costs $25 to send the first CSS Profile, and $16 for additional reports. Without this, or an alternate method provided by the institution, you will not receive any institutional aid.
To whom it may concern,
My name is (your name). I am a senior at (Name of High School, District, State). I am a Questbridge Finalist (only write if you are a finalist), and I applied to (Name of College College). I have a question. Sending the CSS Profile poses a financial burden to me, so I was wondering if (Name of College) offers CSS Profile fee waiver codes or if there are other ways I could apply for financial aid.
Note: Again, it’s imperative you email your schools with time. Do not wait until a day before the deadline submit the CSS to start asking for codes or other alternatives.
If you’re looking to major in art, or you have an exceptional talent in art, you may want to (or be required) to submit Arts Supplements. Some schools will not charge you to submit them but others will indirectly. The cost for submitting through the Common App’s Slide Room is $10. If your college application is waived, however, it is very likely your college will waive the Slide Room’s fee as well.
If that is not the case, or if the college you’re applying to does not use Slide Room, then you can always email the college asking if the fee can be waived.
To give you an idea of how much you would be required to pay, Olivia Bogan, and Lin Huang, two current high schools seniors who applied to 9 and 40 schools respectively have kindly provided us with the breakdown of how much money they would had spent vs. how money they actually spent using any of the above money-saving methods.
Wow! Talk about expensive!
See the difference! All it takes is some planning and organizing to save you money! While college is worth the investment, you should try to find alternative ways to pay for the components whenever possible.
P.S. If you’re wondering why Lin applied to so many schools, stay tuned to learn why on our following series: How to create your college list!
Contributions made by the following people: Olivia Bogan and Lin Huang
Written by Ana Yanes
More information can be given by Ana Yanes
Published: 8 March 2015
Last Updated: 8 March 2015