How Much Are College Application Fees?

Katie Markey McLaughlin

Going to college is expensive, and the costs start adding up even before you enroll in a school. One of those costs is the fee associated with submitting your college applications.

Average Application Fees

College application fees typically range from $25 to $90 per application, and that money is non-refundable. U.S. News & World Report's 2013 survey of almost 1,300 undergraduate institutions found that the average application fee was $38.39, which is an increase of eight percent from 2007. For a student who applies to five to eight schools - the College Board's recommended number - the average total cost ranges from close to $200 to over $300. That's in addition to the expenses that may come with sending transcripts or taking and sending standardized test results.

Representative Examples

College application fees vary based on the type of school you're applying to. Specific freshmen application fees from a few different types of institutions across the country (as of February of 2014) are:

School Name Type of School State Application Fee
Appalachian State University State North Carolina $55
Berry College Private Georgia $50
Bowling Green State University State Ohio $45
Cornell University Private - Ivy League New York $75
Drexel University Private Pennsylvania $75
New Mexico State University State New Mexico $20
Princeton University Private - Ivy League New Jersey $65
Rice University Private Texas $75
Stanford University Private California $90
University of Florida State Florida $30

Application fees are usually listed on the school's website under 'Admissions', along with the other application requirements.

Additional Costs Beyond the Application Fee

The application fee isn't the only cost you'll incur when you apply to college. There are additional expenses that are often overlooked. These include the following:

  • As part of your application, you will need to have your high school transcript sent to the schools you're applying to. While some schools do this for free, others charge a small fee per school. Your school may also charge a small fee for schools outside of the state. Your high school guidance counseling department or your district registrar's office can tell you what the fee is for your school.
  • You will also need to send the schools a record of your standardized test scores. For example, when you register for the SAT exam you receive four free score reports, but requests for additional reports are $11.25 each.
  • Depending on the type of academic program you're applying to, you may need to send additional materials to the school. Arts and design programs, for instance, often require portfolios or work samples, and you will be responsible for the cost of preparing and mailing those items. That cost can vary considerably depending on the number and type of materials you're mailing (such as an original painting, a photograph of a sculpture, or a DVD featuring a theater performance).

Ways to Keep the Cost Down

The good news is that there are ways to minimize the amount you spend on college application fees. Three tips for keeping your total cost down include:

  • Only apply to schools you're seriously interested in attending. While it's smart to apply to multiple schools, including one or two that feel like a stretch, most of your applications should be to schools that are likely to accept you and that you'll strongly consider attending.
  • Look into fee waivers. Most schools will waive the application fee for students who can demonstrate that their families are in need of financial assistance. Your high school guidance counselor can assist you in completing The National Association for College Admission Counseling's Request for Admission Application Fee Waiver form, which is accepted by most colleges.
  • Apply online. Some colleges, such as the University of Hartford, offer free or reduced application fees to those who complete their application through the web. Doing so reduces the school's administrative costs, and is often faster and more convenient for you as well.

Important Expense Consideration

As you prepare to apply to college, don't forget about the expenses that go along with doing so. College application fees can quickly add up, especially if you apply to several schools, so take steps to keep your total cost at an amount that's reasonable for you.

How Much Are College Application Fees?