How to Save Money During the College Admission Process

Everyone talks about the cost of attending college, but what about the cost of applying to college? The college admission process can really add up. You have to pay for college applications, tests, and visiting colleges. Some students may also pay for extra college admission help and test prep. The cost of just applying to college can be quite intimidating for some families. Luckily, there are many ways to save money during the college admission process.

College Counseling

Using an independent educational consultant is not necessary when applying to college. They can definitely make the process a little easier, but if you don’t have the money for the help, you can still be successful when applying to college.

  • Many school counselors have a lot of great knowledge about colleges and can provide guidance when it comes to building your college list, submitting your application, proofreading your essays, and deciphering financial aid awards. The counseling team at your school may also provide free workshops on things related to the college admission process. Lastly, school counselors typically have information about local events in the community that college bound students might find helpful, such as college fairs, college application workshops, and FAFSA workshops.
  • Do your own research when looking at colleges. While college website can be a little different, you should be able to find all of the information you need when researching a college. If you are having trouble finding information, you can always reach out to your admission counselor at the colleges you are considering and ask your questions.
  • There are a lot of great free resources that provide college admission information and advice. I provide a lot of information based on the knowledge I have from my time as a college admission professional. There are also a lot of great counselors and organizations that provide free information online.
Application Fees

Many colleges require an application fee to apply for admission and some are almost $100. Even applying to a handful of schools can really add up. But, there are ways to get the application fee waived.

  • Some colleges do not charge an application fee. While the lack of an application fee is not a reason to apply to a college, it can be a real advantage if you don’t have to pay an application fee. Some colleges never charge an application fee, and others may send an email with a code to waive the application fee. Therefore, read those emails and letters you receive from colleges because they might just send you a fee waiver.
  • Some colleges will waive the application fee is you visit the college. However, you must make sure that you make the visit official to qualify for the application fee waiver.
  • Check with your school counselor to see if you qualify for a fee waiver. If you meet the qualifications, they may provide you with a fee waiver.
  • You can always ask the college if they will wave application fees.

It costs money to take the SAT and ACT. If you want to submit your test scores to more colleges, you’ll have to pay extra. And, test prep can add on to the cost of taking the test.

  • If you don’t have the extra money to pay for test prep, there are free resources available online. In addition, check with your school to see if they will be offering test prep for free or at a discounted rate.
  • Just like there are fee waivers for college applications, you may qualify for a fee waiver for the SAT or ACT. Check with your school counselor to see if you qualify.
  • Do the colleges you are considering require test scores? Some colleges are now test optional and do not require test scores for admissions or financial aid. If the college does not need them, don’t include them on the list when choosing your four free test reports. However, make sure you know the policies and procedures at the college when it comes to test scores, and if you have any questions, ask your admission counselor.
  • Will the college accept the test scores from another source? Some high schools will include test scores on or with the official transcript. Check with your high school to see if this is something that they do when sending official transcripts to colleges. If the college will accept your test scores from your high school, you may not need to include them when choosing your four free reports.
College Visits

A college visit is the best way to learn if a college a good fit for you. However, visiting the colleges you are considering can really add up. Luckily, there are ways to save money.

  • Many colleges offer some type of incentive to visit their campuses. Prospective students may be able to spend the night on campus for free so you do not have to pay for a hotel room. You might also get a free or discounted meal on campus during your official college visit. Some colleges offer fly-in programs or travel reimbursements. And, some colleges offer visit scholarships. While they may not help you pay for your college visit, they may provide a scholarship if you choose to attend the college in the future. Check with the colleges you are considering to see if they offer any of these incentives and what you need to do to qualify.
  • Check with your high school to see if they are making any college visits. Some high schools may visit local high schools, while others visit colleges farther away from home. These visits are sometimes free or will cost you a lot less than visiting on your own.
Financial Aid

Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams that say they will get you a lot of financial aid for “a small fee.” In addition, there are services available that will help you with financial aid for a fee. However, applying for financial aid should be free!

  • The FAFSA is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Free is in the name! You should never pay anything to file your FAFSA. If you have questions about filling out the FAFSA, check with your high school to see if they know of any free FAFSA workshops in the area. You can also contact the colleges you are considering to ask your questions.
  • While the FAFSA is free, some colleges require the CSS Profile. Just like college applications and the SAT and ACT, there are fee waivers available for the CSS Profile. You will find out if you qualify for a fee waiver by filling out the CSS Profile.
  • You do not need to pay a fee to find scholarships. In addition to the scholarship lists available on my website, there are many creditable scholarship sites that are free to use, such as Fastweb and Unigo.
  • If the scholarship requires an application fee, skip it! Never pay an application fee to submit a scholarship application. It may be a scam if they are asking for an application fee.

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