College Applications are Too Expensive


PC Prospector Staff

College application deadlines have come up fast, and many students have noticed the outrageous fees required to submit an application. Most applications cost between fifty and seventy-five dollars, but some can cost up to ninety dollars.


College application fees are imposed to pay for the cost of reviewing your application and making a decision on your acceptance. This is essentially a “cost of labor” charge to help pay the people who work on reviewing the application.


Attending a college or university costs a lot of money already, and we believe that it shouldn’t cost even more to apply. In an ideal world, college applications should cost around twenty to twenty-five dollars, but since this isn’t necessarily possible, schools should focus on providing easier access to fee waivers.


Fee waivers are available to students who need them, but the process of obtaining one is lengthy and requires counselor verification and document proof that you qualify.


The Common Application is the most common way to apply for college in the United States. According to the Common Application website, you may qualify for fee waivers if you received a fee waiver for the ACT or SAT, are enrolled in the federal free or reduced price lunch program, or you are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low income families, etc.


Although there are many reasons why you may qualify for a fee waiver, obtaining one is another process. You first must qualify due to one of these reasons, you then must request a fee waiver in the fee waiver section of the common application, and then your counselor must complete a fee waiver form to “affirm your request.” 


Requesting a fee waiver can also cause some seemingly unnecessary conversations about private information that students must have with counselors. 


“The counselor has to sign a form, and sometimes those are kind of uncomfortable, private conversations to have where we need to say ‘hey, we need to check the same [reason that you qualified] that you checked, so tell us which one to check,” said Park City High School Counselor Dara Smith.


Students shouldn’t be forced to have uncomfortable conversations with counselors in order to obtain fee waivers for applications. In application processes that tend to rely on the honor code, fees stand out because of these conversations.


Students who don’t qualify for fee waivers, but also can’t afford to pay fifty to seventy-five dollar application fees, are probably in the worst position though.


“Sometimes it might just mean they have to be more selective with where they want to apply. Like maybe they won’t apply to ten schools, maybe they apply to only five or six,” said Smith.


Typically with college applications, the more places a student applies to, the more confident they are that they will get into at least one school. Cutting down on the number of schools a student applies to due to cost is not fair.


According to an article from the College Board Website, “There is no magic number, but five to eight applications are usually enough to ensure that a student is accepted into a suitable institution.” 


Many of the universities that cost more to apply only cost so much because they want to make sure the student is actually interested in attending, and not just applying because it’s “there.” More selective universities also require more people to review your application.


Relying on money to make such decisions is not fair to students who simply cannot afford the exorbitant prices.  


“The more selective colleges spend more time on an application, so their costs are more because they have to pay for the staff, and sometimes it’s just because that’s what they feel is a doable fee for their application,” said Smith.


We think fee waivers should be easier to acquire and not require the complicated application process. Students shouldn’t be forced to have these uncomfortable conversations in order to acquire the waiver they need to be able to afford college applications.


College is expensive enough as it is, and students shouldn’t be limited on where to apply due to application costs. Though we know college applications will likely never be free, we do hope that they can eventually be reduced and that there will be easier access to fee waiver in the future.