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While families understandably focus on the cost of attending college, there are many college-related expenses to account for before ever receiving a letter of acceptance.

Between taking tests, ordering test reports and sending in college applications, the costs can quickly add up.

How Much Are College Application Fees?

What you pay partly depends on where you apply, because application fees and test requirements can vary from one school to the next. Recently, a growing list of schools is not requiring the SAT or ACT scores as part of their admissions requirements. Be sure to check with your desired school’s admissions requirements to determine if a standardized test is required.

  • Application Fee - average $43 per college. Among the more than 953 ranked colleges that submit data to US News and World Report in an annual survey, the average application fee was $44. However, there are several schools that charge at least $75 to apply.
  • SAT Exam - starting at $52. The SAT exam costs $68 if you take the test with the essay portion. You will pay $26 to register for a subject test date, plus $21-$26 for each test you register to take (up to three tests per date). The College Board, the non-profit that administers the test, will send four score reports to schools for free if you make the request within nine days of taking the test. There's a $12 fee per score report after the fourth and for any reports you request after the nine-day period ends.
  • ACT Exam - starting at $55. It costs $70 to take the ACT exam with the writing portion. You can send up to four reports to schools for free. For scores to be sent to your 5th and 6th choice schools, you'll need to pay $13 for each report.
  • CSS Profile™ - starting at $25. Some schools require applicants to complete the College Board's CSS Profile to be eligible for non-federal student aid, such as grants from the college. There's a $25 fee the first time you send your Profile to a school or scholarship program and $16 for each additional submission.

Strategize Sending Score Reports

You may be able to save money by preparing for the college application process in advance. In addition to avoiding late registration fees for tests, proper planning can help you use the four free reports that come with the SAT or ACT test wisely.

For example, rather than using several of the free reports for state college system schools, you may only need to send the report to one school and it'll be distributed to the others in the system for free. You can contact the public state college you're considering applying to for more information. You may be given an institutional code that applies to the whole school system, or use a single school's code and distribute the score later.

Apply for Waivers to Save Money

If you are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), receive public assistance, live in subsidized public housing or meet low-income requirements, you may also be able to save money by applying for testing or application fee waivers. The waivers can help cover the cost of submitting college applications and taking the SAT and ACT tests. With the SAT exam fee waiver, you can send scores to as many colleges as you like for free. You can ask a high school counselor or your target school's financial aid office where to find the appropriate waiver application.

If you received a SAT exam fee waiver, you could automatically be eligible for college application fee waivers. More than 2,000 colleges participate in this fee-waiver program, including schools that use the Coalition, Common and Universal applications.

College application fee waivers may be available even if you didn't receive an SAT exam fee waiver. For Common Application schools, you can request a waiver online within your profile. When applying to other schools, you can ask your high school counselor or the college's admission office how to request a waiver.

ACT® is a trademark registered by ACT, Inc., which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.

SAT® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.

CSS Profile™ is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.


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