CUNY Fee Waiver Demonstration – The City University of New York

CUNY Fee Waiver Demonstration – The City University of New York

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  • A. Application Fee Waivers
  • B. Tuition Waivers
  • C. Fee In Lieu of Tuition

A college and its president do not have the authority to waive fees and tuition unless such waiver is pursuant to an established University policy or is otherwise specifically authorized by The City University of New York Board of Trustees. Although the list below indicates the waivers currently offered by CUNY, it may not be an all-inclusive list. New waivers may be added with the approval of the Board between Manual updates.

A. Application Fee Waivers

Students for whom application fee is a financial hardship

Application Fee Waivers are dependent on the following:

  • University Office of Admission Services (OAS) in conjunction with the University Budget Office determines, annually, the amount of money available for application fee waivers.
  • OAS allots each high school in New York State a number of application fee waivers proportional to their application rates from needy students, as measured by their financially eligible Special Program applicants.
  • High schools distribute application fee waivers to students who have applied for the Special Programs.
  • University Director of Admissions may waive the application fee in special cases.
  • Application fee waivers for degree students are not permitted unless submitted for Board approval through the University Budget Office, the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Office of Internal Audit and Management Services.
  • Application fee waivers for non-degree and graduate students do not require the approval of the University Director of Admissions.
    • Individual non-degree and graduate student waivers will continue to be reviewed and approved by the college, on a case-by-case basis, for submission to the Board for approval.
    • Any waivers pertaining to a group of students must be submitted to the Board for approval.
    • Individual non-degree and graduate student waivers must also be submitted for Board approval before the college grants them.

Veteran’s Application Fee Waiver

Veterans are entitled to an application fee waiver based on eligibility. For more information about the Veterans Application Fee Waiver, contact the CUNY Office of Veteran’s Affairs .

B. Tuition Waivers

NYC High School Students

Colleges may apply for and receive Board approval to waive tuition for current New York City high school students taking college course(s) while completing their high school education.

  • These tuition waivers must be renewed every year.
  • The request for tuition waivers may include a request to waive application fees, student activity fees, the consolidated services fees, and the technology fee.
  • The amount of the tuition and/or fee waiver will be calculated utilizing the applicable senior or community college lowest undergraduate resident degree tuition rate/credit.
  • Tuition and fee waivers for high school students attending separately funded City or State programs, such as College Now, do not require Board resolutions.
  • For all colleges, tuition waivers for high school students will be considered unfunded waivers for revenue purposes.
  • Accounting procedures will keep track of these students by utilizing an OSIS number, a unique nine-digit number assigned to each student by the Department of Education. This number is easily obtained from the student’s high school permanent record and program card. A social security number should also be entered, or in the absence of an accurate number, the college should generate the number.

University Skills Immersion Program (USIP)

  • All tuition and fees are waived for USIP students. There is no TAP eligibility for USIP courses. Students enrolled in both USIP and non-USIP summer courses will be assessed tuition and fees for non-USIP courses.
  • The colleges will be required to report USIP enrollment data to the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, but the data must be properly identified as USIP enrollment data so that the FTEs are not included in the University Budget Office’s revenue projections. It should be noted that any USIP courses, that do not offer basic skills components and are only educational experiences, and do not generate credits or equated credits, will not be included in official college transcripts.

Macaulay Honors College University Scholars

  • University Scholars tuition is fully funded in the following order: Tuition is funded first from eligible TAP awards, followed by New York City Council scholarship funds and other tuition-only scholarships, and lastly through funded waivers provided by the University Budget Office.
  • The University Budget Office waivers for Macaulay Honors College students are at the resident rate of tuition.
  • Home colleges of University Scholars may supplement the Honors College scholarships through campus-based awards.
  • University Scholars register at their Home College and are billed through the CUNY administrative finance system. Waivers are recorded for tuition only. University Scholars pay fees.
  • Effective Fall 2013, out-of-state students accepted and subsequently enrolled at Macaulay will not be eligible for the Tuition Scholarship. Out-of-state students will be responsible for the total cost of their tuition. Currently enrolled out-of-state students will continue receiving the full Tuition Scholarship for the duration of their attendance.

Accelerated Studies in Associate Programs

  • Students participating in the ASAP program who are eligible for state or federal financial aid will be entitled to receive waivers for tuition and fees not covered by State and/or federal financial aid programs. ASAP students who are not eligible for State or federal Financial Aid programs must pay all tuition and fees assessed and will not receive any waivers.
  • The waiver amount will differ for every eligible student dependent upon the amount of financial aid applied to the tuition and fees assessed.
  • ASAP Program students are required to complete and file a Financial Aid Application (FASFA). Students who do not file the FASFA, or who are adjudged not eligible for aid will be required to pay the entire amount of tuition and fees.

Grants and Contract Students

CUNY General Policy

“Whenever funds are received by the University or an individual college from private, State or City sources specifically to cover instructional and other costs for a special program of study or for a clearly defined special group of students, the Board may waive any tuition and fees which would otherwise be imposed on the affected students.”

  • Tuition may be waived for students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate courses when they are enrolled in an identified grant or contract (G/C) program.
  • The terms of the G/C must provide for full payment of the costs of the program.
  • Student activity fees, Consolidated Services Fees, and technology fees may be waived upon submission of sufficient justification to the Board when courses are held off campus.
  • Application fee waivers for all UG degree students, even for those students admitted directly by the college, must be approved, in advance, by the University’s Director of Admissions
    • Waivers for other students (e.g., non-degree and graduate) may be submitted directly to the Board for approval.
  • Such blanket waiver shall not take effect until a resolution has been approved by the Board of Trustees and appears in the CHANCELLOR’S REPORT setting forth:
    a. The name of the sponsor
    b. The number of students affected
    c. The amount of the grant/contract
    d. The tuition and fees to be waived
  • In all cases, the total tuition and fees to be waived must be less than or equal to the amount of the grant/contract. If not, an adequate explanation/justification must be provided. Waivers granted by the college, which do not eventually appear in the Chancellor’s Report, are considered invalid and become the responsibility of the college.
  • Where funds received under grants or contract programs are deposited with the Research Foundation (RF) and the costs are paid directly by the foundation, the Board may waive tuition and fees.
    • RF should provide the college with funds to cover overhead costs.
    • The headcount and FTEs are reported appropriately in the Enrollment Report
  • Where funds received under grants or contract programs are deposited with the Construction Fund (CUCF) to cover tuition, no waivers are required inasmuch as third parties (grantor or contractor) make payments.
    • Either the third party or the student may pay fees.
    • The headcount and FTEs are reported appropriately in the Enrollment Report

Graduate Students

Senior college base budgets include amounts that are to be used to offset tuition waivers for graduate students, who could not otherwise afford the University’s tuition charges. These waivers should be administered in the following manner:

  • Waivers should be granted only to degree students who meet the financial need criteria established in the CUNY Needs Analysis System. No waivers should be granted to non-degree students.
  • Full-time degree students who are residents of New York State and apply for a tuition waiver on the basis of financial need are required to show evidence of application for a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award or provide an adequate explanation for not being eligible for such an award.
  • Part-time graduate students may also be granted waivers if they meet the financial need criteria established in the CUNY Needs Analysis System, provided they are also taking a minimum of six (6) credits in the semester for which a waiver is granted.
  • The total tuition assistance provided, including the tuition waiver may not exceed tuition and other fees.
  • Tuition waivers granted to part-time students should not exceed 50 percent of tuition and other fees except in the case of unusual financial hardship.
  • Residents of the City or the State of New York should be given tuition waiver priority.
  • Out-of-State and foreign students are also eligible for awards up to the resident student tuition rate.
  • The maintenance of matriculation fee paid by graduate students who are not registered for any course or research credit may not be waived.
  • Doctoral candidates who have completed all requirements, except thesis, may audit graduate courses without paying tuition.

Cooperating Teacher

See “Special Programs and Special Situations”

  • Upon payment of the $40 application fee, cooperating teachers may be granted tuition waivers for up to 3 credits for any semester (including summer session)
    • Limited to a total of a maximum of 18 credits
    • Granted to residents and non-residents (up to the resident student tuition rate)
    • Waivers are applicable to undergraduate and graduate courses
    • Charges for excess contact hours may also be waived for courses in which tuition has been waived.
    • $25 Cooperating Teacher Fee, a Consolidated Services Fee, and a technology fee are charged to each student per semester.
    • Cooperating Teacher Waiver cannot be used for the Maintenance of Matriculation Fee.
    • Cooperating teachers who take credits in excess of those waived are required to pay tuition at the applicable rates for the additional credit and the $25 Cooperating Teacher Fee.
  • Cooperating teacher “students” are exempt from payment of the student activity fees. However, they must pay the Consolidated Services Fee and the technology fee, as well as any other-than-tuition charges (i.e., late registration, program change, etc.).


CUNY employees are eligible for tuition waivers for undergraduate and graduate courses at any college of The City University of New York on a space available basis.

Employees requesting tuition waivers for any CUNY college must submit a CUNY Employee Tuition Fee Waiver Form, signed by the employee’s Director of Human Resources (or designee). Annually, the Bursar should receive a copy of the authorized signatories at each college from the University’s Office of Faculty and Staff Relations.

An employee tuition waiver covers either the resident or non-resident tuition rate. There is a 3-6 credit cap on graduate courses (dependent on title) per semester. Any credits taken above cap will be assessed at the applicable resident or non-resident tuition rate.

Employee CategoryService RequirementsCourse Type & Credit LimitsSummer SessionWinter Session
Instructional StaffUG — 1 year
GR — None
UG – No Limit
GR – 6 Credits
Classified ManagerialUG — 1 year
GR — None
UG – No Limit
GR – 6 Credits
Adjunct Teaching Titles10 consecutive semesters1 Course (UG or GR)NoNo
Gittleson Titles6 monthsUG – No Limit
GR – 6 Credits
Yes UG OnlyNo
Classified White Collar1 yearUG – No Limit
GR – 3 Credits
Yes UG OnlyNo
Classified Blue Collar1 yearUG – No Limit
GR – 3 Credits
Yes UG OnlyNo
Skilled Trades1 yearUG – No Limit
UG Only

Police Officers

  • Members of the New York City Police Department who are enrolled in CUNY programs that lead to a baccalaureate or higher degree at a senior college are statutorily entitled to a one-time, one course tuition waiver (with no limit to the number of credits) pursuant to NYS Education Law § 6206 (7)(c).
  • The one-time course tuition waiver and does not extend beyond the semester in which the waiver is granted, and the course must be related to the officer’s employment with the Department.
  • To apply for the waiver, the Police Officer must present his/her NYC Police Department shield (badge) and department issued photo ID.
  • The Police Officer must complete a certification form stating that he/she serves in the rank of Police Officer and that he/she has never received this type of tuition waiver at any other CUNY College.
  • The waiver may apply to any semester, intersession or summer term*.
  • There is a specific code for this waiver. These are unfunded waivers as determined by the University Budget Office.

*Note: NYS Education Law § 6206 (7)(c) expires annually and must be renewed by the State Legislature. Before granting the Police Officer Tuition Waiver, confirm that the statute has been renewed for the year in which the Waiver is sought.

Inmates of Correctional Institutions

The City University of New York has agreed to waive the required tuition and fees (including the student activity fee, the consolidated fee, and the technology fee) for residents of the City of New York who are inmates of correctional institutions and enroll in courses offered by The City University of New York.

C. Fee In Lieu of Tuition

Senior Citizens

See Senior Citizen section in “Specific Programs & Special Situations”

The Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver is not actually a tuition waiver, but a fee in lieu of tuition. The City University of New York allows Senior Citizens to pay reduced fees when taking CUNY courses. The Senior Fee in Lieu of Tuition may differ as applied at Community Colleges and Senior Colleges. In order to qualify for a Senior Fee in Lieu of Tuition, a student must:

  • Satisfy New York City/State residency requirements.
  • Be 60 years of age or older as of the first day of classes.

Colleges must keep in mind the following with regard to these waivers:

  • Senior citizen enrollment may not be used to calculate minimum enrollment.
  • Senior citizens may enroll in undergraduate courses on a space available basis.
  • Senior citizens are charged a $65 administrative fee per session or semester.
  • Senior citizens must pay a consolidated services fee and a technology fee.
  • Senior citizens are not charged a student activity fee or application fee.
  • Senior citizens are liable for any compensatory fees they may incur.

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How to Get a College Application Fee Waiver: 3 Approaches

Posted by Rebecca Safier | Jun 5, 2018 6:00:00 PM

College Admissions



Most college application fees fall in the $40 to $50 range, with some costing as much as $90 (ahem, Stanford). For many students and their families, these fees present a serious obstacle along the already pricey path to college. If application fees are burdensome to you, you may qualify for college application fee waivers!

Just like SAT and ACT fee waivers, these college fee waivers allow you to send off your applications for free. This guide will go over how you can qualify for and use college application fee waivers, step by step.

First, let’s review how much college applications usually cost and how much you can save with fee waivers.


How Much Do College Applications Cost?

College applications, on average, cost around $40. Especially selective schools, like NYU, Boston University, Harvard, Yale, and, of course, the pricey Stanford, ask for $70 or more. If you apply to just five of these pricey private schools, then you’re already looking at application fees of over $350!

Several state schools are a little less expensive; Penn State, University of Wisconsin, and University of Texas, for instance, all ask for $50. Other schools are somewhat more reasonable with application fees of $25 or $30, plus there are a good number of schools to which you can apply for free ! 

But unless you’re applying to primarily fee-free schools, the costs of applying can seriously add up – especially if you’re looking at 8 or more colleges. Fee waivers can be a huge help, but they aren’t available to everyone. Fee waivers are given only to students and families who qualify. Read on to learn if you’re eligible.



So eligible. How about you?


How Do You Qualify for College Application Fee Waivers?

First off, it merits saying that your fee waivers are actually fee waiver requests. Ultimately, each of your colleges must approve your request. For the most part, colleges will approve if you have your school counselor’s or another designated official’s signature.

If your colleges have any doubts or questions, then they might ask you to send along extra information demonstrating that you qualify (this is rare). Mostly, this fee waiver process is done on the honor system. It’s up to you and your counselor to determine if you’re eligible, so take a look at the criteria below.

There are a few pieces of criteria that must apply for you to be eligible for fee waivers. They’re actually the same guidelines that apply to getting an SAT or ACT fee waiver . If you already got an SAT or ACT fee waiver, therefore, then you should be automatically eligible for college application fee waivers.

If you’re using the Common Application or your admission test of choice was the SAT, then the process should be especially easy. Before delving into how to get the fee waivers, let’s go over the qualifying guidelines. Just one of these must apply to you.

    • You’re enrolled in or eligible for the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program.
    • Your family income meets the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service*.
    • You’re enrolled in a program that aids students from low-income families, like Upward Bound.
    • Your family receives public assistance.
    • You live in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or are homeless.
    • You’re a ward of the state or an orphan.
    • You can provide a supporting statement from an official of your financial eligibility.

*For most states, the Income Eligibility Guidelines are as follows:

Members in HouseholdTotal Annual Income


So if you already got an SAT or ACT fee waiver or have since determined that you’re eligible based on the above criteria, how do you go about obtaining your college fee waiver?



First, you’ll need a shovel, gloves, and a sturdy pair of shoes…

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How Do You Get College Application Fee Waivers?

The easiest ways to get your hands on application fee waivers don’t involve archaeological adventures, unfortunately. They involve cases in which:

  1. You’re applying to colleges with the Common Application, and/or
  2. You took the SAT with a fee waiver.

If neither of these scenarios applies to you, then you may be able to obtain an alternative fee waiver form. For instance, students who took the ACT and are applying to a non-Common Application school may need to find these other forms.

Finally, if you have trouble obtaining any form at all, then you could simply fax or send your college a letter of request. Since there are a few different options, we’ll break it down with instructions for each scenario, starting with students who apply through the Common Application.


Scenario 1: You’re Using the Common Application

The Common App is streamlines the application process in a number of ways, one of which is asking for fee waivers. You can use request fee waivers from any of your Common App schools!

To obtain a Common App fee waiver, you have to meet the same requirements as the ones described above. In your Profile section, you’ll indicate whether or not you qualify for a fee waiver, and then you’ll select your reason why. The screen will look like this:


If you select yes, then you’ll be prompted to select an indicator of economic need:


You’ll electronically sign this section, as well as receive the above reminder that your counselor will need to confirm your answer. If you already got an SAT or ACT fee waiver, then your counselor should be able to sign off on this automatically. If not, then you may have to provide proof to your counselor that you qualify.

As mentioned above, many schools use the honor system. As long as your counselor approves, you should be all set. If, for some reason, your school wants to see proof or has decided to deny your fee waiver request (rare), then they will contact you. If you don’t hear from them, then everything should be good to go.

If your schools request a hard copy, then they may accept a number of forms. The easiest would be a College Board fee waiver form, which you’ll get automatically if you already took the SAT with a fee waiver. If you didn’t, then you can access other similar forms. I’ll describe the different options below, starting with College Board’s application fee waivers.


Scenario 2: You Took the SAT or SAT Subject Tests With a Fee Waiver

Maybe you need to send proof of your Common Application fee waiver eligibility to a college. Or maybe you’re applying to a college that doesn’t use the Common App, like a school in the University of Texas or University of California system. For whatever reason, you need a college fee waiver form. 

If you took the SAT or one or more SAT Subject Tests with a fee waiver, then you’ll automatically get four college fee waivers from College Board. These college app fee waivers will become available through your College Board account.

You just have to log in and click on “Apply to college for free.” Once there, you can access and, if your college requests it, print out and send your fee waivers. If you took the SAT as a senior, then you’ll be able to access these waivers when your scores become available. If you took the SAT as a junior, then you’ll have to wait until the fall of senior year.

Now, you may be thinking that you want to apply to more than four colleges. Can you get more fee waivers?



Sometimes four just isn’t enough.


What If You Want to Apply to More than Four Colleges?

Both College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which also offers a waiver form, recommend that you limit the use of their college fee waivers to no more than four schools.

However, if you’re applying to non-Common App schools and only have four fee waivers from College Board, then you may try using a different fee waiver form or asking the colleges themselves. For instance, you could use your four College Board forms and another four NACAC forms, for a total of 8 free applications. 

As most of this process is done on the honor system with your counselor as the gatekeeper, there doesn’t seem to be a strict cutoff. Four fee waivers per organization is a suggestion, but not a fixed or enforced rule. Plus, you can use one type of form for one college and another for a different college. 

You also may need to use alternative forms if you didn’t take the SAT and thus didn’t get any College Board waivers. Let’s take a look at what these alternative fee waiver forms are.




Scenario 3: You Need Alternative Fee Waiver Forms

Maybe you took the ACT, are applying to non-Common App schools, and/or are looking for extra fee waivers. There are a few other forms you can use, plus you can call up your admissions offices and ask for their advice (always recommended, as colleges like to set unique policies).

Your first stop, though, should be your counselor’s office. Your counselor should have these forms, so you shouldn’t have to go tracking them down yourself. As mentioned above, you’ll have to get her signature of approval anyway.

There are two main forms she may distribute: the ACT waiver or NACAC waiver. A less common form that’s sent directly to qualifying students is College Board’s Realize Your College Potential waiver. They’re all pretty similar, but let’s break each of them down so you can see where to find them and how to use them.


The ACT, Inc. Fee Waiver

Unlike College Board, ACT, Inc. doesn’t automatically grant its test fee-waiving students with application fee waivers. In fact, it doesn’t advertise its fee waivers anywhere I can see on its website.

However, it does have one that students and counselors can use – somewhat buried on page 39 of this ACT User Handbook for Educators . This form is like most of the others – it asks for your basic info, like name, address, and high school, as well as your and your school official’s (likely your counselor) signatures. You’ll also indicate the college to which you’re applying.

While the form doesn’t clearly specify, it’s probably safe to assume that you should only use this form if you took the ACT and, of course, qualified for an ACT fee waiver. However, you’re not limited to this ACT waiver. You should use whichever form your counselor offers or college requires. 


The NACAC Fee Waiver

NACAC provides a useful fee waiver request form , as well as a page of FAQs to help students. It’s similar to the Common App page and the ACT waiver. It asks for your basic info and asks you to specify an indicator of economic need.

You’ll also need your counselor or designated school official to sign it. Any student can use this form, regardless of the admission test you took, but remember that NACAC recommends limiting your use of its fee waiver requests to four colleges.


The Realize Your College Potential Fee Waiver

The Realize Your College Potential fee waiver , which comes from College Board, is a bit less accessible than the other two. Students who are in the top 10-15% of their class and the bottom 33% of the income distribution (roughly $40K–$50K and below) will receive Realize Your College Potential packets from College Board with college planning, scholarship, and fee waiver information.

Each student will get a personalized packet with her own unique code. If you received one of these, then you can log in and access your fee waivers on the RYCP website . If you didn’t receive this packet, then your best bet for external forms that you can easily access yourself is the one offered by NACAC.

Again, your counselor should give you these forms, so check with her about what steps you should take before worrying about obtaining them yourself!




Individual Colleges’ Fee Waivers

For most students in most scenarios, these forms, or a combination of them, should work to get their application fees waived. However, there are always unique circumstances that stand outside of the typical process.

If you still have questions, you should contact the admissions offices of your prospective colleges. Find out if they accept fee waivers and, if so, if they prefer a specific form or simply a letter.

Some may suggest that you write and send or fax a letter of request. Harvard , for instance, accepts College Board and NACAC forms, but also welcomes a letter if you can’t obtain those forms for some reason.

Its admission office says, “If you are unable to obtain these forms, you may have your guidance counselor or school official send us a letter requesting a fee waiver based on financial hardship. You may also write this letter yourself, and have it signed by a school official. Fee waiver requests may be faxed to 617-496-3229, or mailed to our office.”

Regardless of the form you use, the requirements are essentially the same: each form represents a request and asks for your basic info, signature, counselor’s signature, and an indicator of economic need. Rarely do you have to provide supporting documentation, but you must have it on hand just in case.

Now that you have a sense of which fee waivers to use and how to get them, is there anything else you need to know about how to use them?



Don’t worry, many colleges don’t even ask to see your fee waiver!


How Do You Use College Application Fee Waivers?

We touched on this briefly, but let’s review how to submit application fee waivers whether you’re using the Common App, a College Board waiver, or a different form.


How to Use Common App Fee Waivers

If you’re applying through the Common App, all you have to do is indicate that you’ll be using a fee waiver on your profile page, as pictured above, and indicate your reason. Your counselor will be prompted to approve your request.

If you already got an SAT or ACT fee waiver, then you shouldn’t have to do anything else, since your counselor will have already double checked your eligibility. If you didn’t, then you may need to provide her with some supporting documentation, like proof of income eligibility.

All Common App schools should accept fee waiver requests. As Cornell says, “The Common Application will automatically send your fee waiver request to your high school counselor for confirmation. No additional documentation is needed after your counselor has approved your request.

Many colleges share this stance, though they reserve the right to ask for more info if they deem it necessary. If you hear from a college requesting more information, then you may have to fax or send your fee waiver form or whatever else they ask for.


How to Use College Board Waivers

Your College Board fee waivers, whether you obtain them through your online account or from a Realize Your College Potential packet, will have a personalized code for you. If you’re applying to a school that’s not on the Common App, then it will likely ask you to enter this code or upload a scanned copy of your waiver within its online application.

If you used an SAT fee waiver, then you should be familiar with this process. SAT registration also involves entering your personalized fee waiver code. If you’re applying by mail or if the college asks for an original hard copy, then you’ll want to send this signed form along with your application.


How to Use Other Fee Waiver Forms

If you’re using an NACAC or ACT, Inc form for non-Common App schools, then you won’t get a personalized code. In most cases, you’ll be asked to upload a scanned copy of the signed form into your application. Again, if you’re applying by mail or the school wants an original hard copy, then you should mail this form. 

If the school needs any more information, then it will contact you and let you know. To prepare for this possibility at a non-Common App school, you should give them a call and ask about the process. A few colleges, like many in the California State system , only accept requests from in-state residents.

There are over 2,000 colleges that approve fee waiver requests – you just have to figure out how your prospective colleges want you to submit your request.

Everyone’s paths to college are different. Similarly, there are several different options for requesting application fee waivers, some straightforward, and others a little more complicated. To make sure you’ve got your bases covered, let’s summarize the most important things to remember for students who want to waive the fees for applying to college.

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What to Remember About College Application Fee Waivers

If and only if you’re eligible, you can get your college application fees waived. All of these college fee waiver forms constitute requests – ultimately, it’s up to your colleges to approve your request.

For most schools, you shouldn’t run into any roadblocks. It’s probably safe to say most colleges welcome as many applications as they can get. The more applications they get, the more selective they can appear to be!

The eligibility guidelines are much the same as for SAT and ACT fee waivers, the most common being a certain yearly family income and/or being part of the Federal Free or Reduced Lunch program. If you already got a testing fee waiver, then your counselor can approve your college app request without any further input from you. If not, then you may have to show her some document that proves your eligibility.

Common Application schools offer the easiest process. For schools not on the Common App, you may need to enter your code and/or upload, fax, or mail your College Board, ACT, or NACAC fee waiver forms. A handful of schools only approve in-state residents’ requests, so do the research on your prospective colleges.

If all else fails, simply send a request, signed by yourself and your counselor, to your college. Mail or fax this letter, and, if you don’t hear back from your college, give them a call and ask if it was accepted.

While organizations emphasize that they only want you to use four fee waivers, you can use more from alternative sources if you’re eligible. Just make sure you’re using them for schools that you’d really like to attend. Of course, all the colleges to which you apply should be ones that you’d really like to attend! Hopefully, fee waivers remove any financial hardship standing in the way of your applications to your favorite colleges.


What’s Next?

Another huge step in college financial planning has to do with financial aid. Check out this guide that breaks down all the steps you need to take to apply for various kinds of financial aid. You can also learn in depth about preparing your FAFSA application.  

If you’re still picking out your colleges, you may be considering tuition cost as a factor. Check out these 27 colleges that offer the best financial aid ! 

Remember to apply for scholarships as well! Our list of the easiest scholarships to apply for  is a great place to start.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We’ve written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Rebecca Safier

About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master’s in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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