These Colleges & Universities Do Not Charge An Application Fee

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The average cost for a college application is $44, according to a study of 936 schools by U.S. News & World Report. However, fees can go as high as $105 — and that’s not just for Ivy League institutions, the University of California, San Diego tops the list with that high application cost. Among the 62 schools with the highest application fees, the average cost was $78. The most common application fee, U.S. News reports, is $50.

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If you’re applying to multiple schools because you want to weigh your options — and your overall college costs — application fees can add up.

Save Money with Need-Based College Fee Waivers

If you’re looking to save money on college application fees, you can see if you qualify for fee waivers for one or more of your schools. Students in low-income families who qualify for the College Board’s SAT testing fee waiver can qualify for up to four college application fee waivers. Typically, students who qualified for the need-based National School Lunch Program, receive public assistance or live in federally subsidized public housing qualify.

Make Your Money Work for You

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) also provides need-based fee waivers, similar to the College Board’s program. Likewise, a program called Realize Your College Potential grants fee waivers to students who are in the top 10% to 15% in their class based on academics but in the bottom third of family income.

You may also request a fee waiver directly from any school if you think you might qualify based on finances.

Receive Fee Waivers for Other Reasons

Some schools waive the application fees for other reasons besides finances, as well. You may receive an application fee waiver from select schools if:

  • Parents or grandparents graduated from that school
  • You visit the school
  • You apply online
  • You have excellent grades and ask for a waiver
  • You are recruited by the school due to sports or academics

Choose Colleges with No Application Fees

You can also save money on college application fees by whittling your list down to three schools or less. Most students apply to at least three colleges. One is their first choice, the second is a “safe” school, where they are pretty sure they can get in, and the third is a “reach” school.

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Make Your Money Work for You

Apply to your first-choice school early; if you get in, you don’t need to apply anywhere else.

By all means, don’t skip applying to your dream school due to fees. But consider choosing some “safe” or “reach” colleges from this list of colleges with no application fees, compiled by

  • United States Military Academy at West Point – West Point, NY
  • Wellesley College – Wellesley, MA
  • Carleton College – Northfield, MN
  • Niagara University – Niagara, NY
  • Colby College – Waterville, ME
  • Grinnell College – Grinnell – IA
  • Macalaster College – Saint Paul, MN
  • Tulane University – New Orleans, LA
  • Smith College – Northampton, MA
  • Kenyon College – Gambier, OH
  • Mount Holyoke College – South Hadley, MA
  • Trinity University – San Antonio, TX
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Worcester, MA
  • Reed College, Portland, OR
  • Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
  • St. Olaf College – Northfield, MN
  • Michigan Technological University – Houghton, MI
  • Saint Louis University – St. Louis, MO
  • Denison University – Granville, OH
  • Wabash College – Crawfordsville, IN
  • Rhodes College – Memphis, TN
  • Baylor University – Waco, TX
  • Hendrix College – Conway, AR
  • University of Dayton – Dayton, OH
  • Lewis & Clark College – Portland, OR
  • University of St. Thomas – Minnesota – St. Paul, MN

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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