College Applications: How to Apply for Free

Going to college is an expensive business, from the admissions tests to college tuitions and housing. In between, you have a lot of smaller expenses that add up to a lot, and that you wish you could do without. Like your application fees, especially if you plan to apply to many colleges.

Stanford, for example, charges around $90. That is the highest. On an average, applications will be around $40. It’ll be a relief if you could do away with application fees, right?

Many other colleges actually give application forms for free, like Wellesley, Kenyon, and Smith. If there is a charge, there are still a couple of ways to apply for free.

Want to apply for free? Here you go.

How to apply for free
Image Credit: Stewart Black
  • Talk to the school counselor: Your best bet is a school counselor who usually has the forms that need to be filled in to get a fee waiver. A signature from the counselor usually qualifies you to get an application form for free.
  • Go online: Some of the schools have a fee waiver for online applicants. It is a good idea to find out which colleges don’t charge for online applications, and apply for those online.
  • Visit the school: Occasionally, colleges do waive off application fees if you go over to collect them personally. To save on a long drive and all for nothing, it is a good idea to call the college and inquire. Some colleges give out free applications to those who join their official campus tours.
  • Ask on grounds of limited funds: Students with financial needs are considered for fee waivers. You will need to meet the college guidance counselor and request for this. A counselor’s signature helps in getting your request approved by the college. Keep supporting documents handy.
  • You can also approach the National Association of College Admission Counseling or the College Board; you can get fee waivers for four colleges from each. This will work out easily if you have taken the SAT or ACT with a fee waiver as that shows that you are eligible for one if you are applying to Common App schools.
  • The College Board issues a fee waiver code that can be used for non-Common App schools. If it is ACT or NACAC, you may need to send a scanned copy of the signed form.
  • Connect with the alumnae: If you have family or friends who have graduated from the colleges that are charging an application fee, you may be able to get free applications through them. It is worth a shot.

You can use one of these suggestions, or mix up two or three of them to get at least a few of your college applications for free. You’ll have to shell out only if you’ve exhausted these options, and that still means you’ve cut down your expenses by a good margin.