ELLIS: Save money on college application costs – Salina Post | Team Cansler

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By KRISTINA ELLIS

It’s no secret that the college application process can get expensive quickly. I mean, think about it: Admissions experts typically recommend students apply to five to eight colleges, but some students apply to 10 or more! And most colleges charge an application fee — to make the money really add up.

Luckily, there’s something your high school student can call a fee waiver that lets them apply for free (yes, I said free) when they qualify, and this can seriously help reduce college application costs. And the best? Obtaining these fee waivers usually takes just a few minutes. So here are the fee waivers your kids need to know about and how to find them.

1. Fee waiver due to financial need

This is the most common type of application fee waiver. Some of the things that can qualify a student for a need-based fee waiver are:

●Eligibility for the federal free or discounted lunch program.

●Eligible for (or already obtained) a SAT or ACT fee waiver.

●Have family income that falls within the income eligibility guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

●Have a family that receives public support.

● Living in government-subsidized housing or nursing homes, or being homeless.

●Being a ward of the state or an orphan

A high school student may receive these waivers from a variety of sources. Here are the main ones to keep in mind:

National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC): Typically, a student can ask their school counselor to give them the NACAC waiver, or it can be downloaded from the NACAC website.

College board: This is the organization behind the SAT. Students who have received a fee waiver for their SAT automatically qualify for the college application fee waiver. Eligible seniors receive these exemptions when they receive their SAT score, and juniors receive them in the fall of their senior year.

ACT, Inc.: This is the organization behind the ACT. If a student takes the ACT using a fee waiver, they may also request a waiver or deferral of the college admissions application fee, which they must then submit to the college to which they are applying.

The college or university you wish to apply to: Some schools allow students to apply for an application fee waiver. The process will be different for each school, but it usually involves filling out a form proving the student’s financial need.

And here’s the great part: Because NACAC, College Board, and ACT, Inc. are separate organizations, eligible students with financial difficulties can take advantage of fee waivers from all three programs—meaning they can apply to multiple colleges for free. Score!

Not every college participates in the fee waiver program. So, if your children are eligible for fee waivers because of financial need, contact the admissions office of your chosen college to see if their fee waivers will be accepted.

2. Fee exemption based on merit

Fee waivers based on financial need are not the only option. Students with high GPAs and excellent test scores can apply for a merit-based fee waiver from their college of choice. Schools are often willing to do this because they want the top-performing, high-performing students to select them. So if your kids are rock star students, let them check out the websites of the schools they are interested in or call the admissions office to see if they can save some money.

And if your high school student is in the top 10-15% of their class but in the bottom third on family income, they might want to check out the College Board-sponsored program, Realize Your College Potential. Some schools also offer fee waivers to finalists and semifinalists for competitions such as the National Merit Scholarship Program.

3. Fee waiver based on expressed interest

“Expressed interest” means that students show that they are serious about applying to a particular college or university—either by attending a campus, attending a college fair, or participating in specific campus programs . When a student tours a school or meets with an admissions officer at a college fair, they may be personally granted a dispensation or invited to apply without an application fee. This is a great way to build a real connection with the school and save money at the same time. Win.

4. Other Waivers

None of the other fee waiver scenarios apply to your high school student? Don’t worry, there are other things colleges can look for when deciding whether or not to offer an application fee waiver. Here are some of them:

●Service-Based Groups: A certain number of service hours or an alumnus of a service-based group (such as AmeriCorps or Peace Corps) can qualify a student. Typically, these fee waivers are available to older students applying for admission.

University employees: University staff (and their dependents) may qualify for an exemption at their school.

Active Soldiers, Veterans, or Children of Veterans: Some colleges offer fee waivers to active service members, veterans, and children of veterans.

Online applicants: More and more schools are now offering reduced application fees (or no fees at all) for online applications.

Special circumstances: If your family has recently experienced a major hardship — like a job loss, a medical emergency, the recent death of a family member, or a financial decline — some schools offer exceptions if you report and document your circumstances. Check with your children’s potential schools to see what options they offer.

Finally, don’t let expensive application fees keep your high school students from applying to as many colleges as they want. Remember that budgeting for this is important Everyone Application costs, but if you know where and how to get the fee waivers, you should be able to save big on this part of the process. I wish you and your kids the best of luck with those college applications – you did it!

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After winning $500,000 in scholarships and graduating from her dream school with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, Kristina Ellis The goal was to help students create their own plan to get a debt-free education. She is the bestselling author of Confessions of a scholarship holder and How to graduate debt free. She is a proven expert on 2021 documentary Borrowed Futures: How Student Loans Are Killing the American Dream. Her work has been featured in a variety of media including Fox & Friends, The Katie Couric Show, CBN, USA Today, Reuters, Seventeen and Money. As a Ramsey personality, Kristina helps thousands of families nationwide navigate the complex waters of college financing and graduate debt-free.

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