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Colleges with No Application Fee

Written by Editorial Team
Updated: January 5, 2024
10 min read
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Are you ready to embark on your college journey? One important consideration as you explore your options is the dreaded application fee. Luckily, there are many top-tier colleges that don't charge an application fee, giving you the opportunity to save some money during this exciting time. In this article, we will explore a list of colleges with no application fee, provide tips for a successful college application process, and answer some frequently asked questions. Let's dive in!

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Understanding College Application Fees

College application fees typically range from $50 to $100 and accompany your application submission, helping to cover the administrative cost of processing your materials. These fees are non-refundable, so it's essential to choose your list of colleges wisely to avoid unnecessary expenses. These fees help ensure that students are serious about their applications by providing a financial barrier to deter applicants who are not genuinely interested.

It is possible to attain an application fee waiver if your family income falls under waiver program eligibility guidelines. These income eligibility guidelines set by institutions can vary year to year and between schools, so check with admissions offices for the colleges you're specifically interested in for more information about attaining an application fee waiver.

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Why Some Colleges Don't Charge Application Fees

While application fees are the norm for most colleges, some institutions have made the bold move to eliminate this financial obstacle. There are a few reasons why colleges choose not to charge application fees.

Firstly, waiving the application fee promotes accessibility and inclusivity by removing financial barriers for prospective students. Many colleges recognize that the cost of applying to multiple institutions can quickly add up, especially for students from low-income backgrounds. By eliminating the application fee, colleges are signaling their commitment to receiving applications from a diverse pool of students, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Secondly, not charging an application fee may attract a higher number of applications. While most students do not receive fee waivers, these fees still represent a significant financial burden for many applicants, especially from low-income families. When colleges waive the fee, it becomes more enticing for students to apply, as it eliminates the financial burden associated with the application process. This increased application pool allows colleges to be more selective in their admissions process, ensuring that they can choose from a larger pool of qualified candidates.

Colleges that don't charge application fees will often emphasize their commitment to making higher education accessible to all. They understand that the cost of applying to college should not be a barrier to students pursuing their educational goals and applying to their dream school. By waiving the fee, these colleges are actively working towards creating a more equitable and inclusive admissions process.


Colleges with No Application Fees

Carleton College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota, does not charge an application fee. This institution is known for its strong writing program, robust undergraduate research opportunities, innovative teaching, and senior capstone and creative project offerings. Carleton adopted this free application policy to encourage students to apply online and still charges a $30 application fee to students who print out paper applications and send them in by mail.

Colby College, a liberal arts school in Maine, offers free applications. Colby is one of the oldest liberal arts schools in the nation and is renowned for its commitment to research, global engagement, and environmental sustainability on campus. The school also boasts an iconic art museum that is an integral part of the campus culture.

Kenyon College in Ohio offers free applications. Kenyon is known for its outstanding English department and writing programs, in addition to its broad liberal arts focus spanning the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The college hosts the Kenyon Review, a prestigious literary magazine known for publishing works by established and emerging writers. Kenyon College also boasts a strong alumni network.

Reed College in Portland, Oregon, does not charge an application fee. Reed is highly respected for its year-long humanities program, providing a comprehensive study of classic texts from ancient to modern times, as well as its strong science programs, emphasis on research and thesis work, and small class sizes. Reed College also does not utilize a traditional letter grade system; instead, it uses a pass/no pass system to encourage a collaborative and supportive learning environment.


St. Olaf College in Minnesota offers free applications. This school is known for its strong biology, economics, psychology, English, and math programs, in addition to a robust music program. St. Olaf is also known for its strong commitment to service and social justice, as well as its range of study abroad program offerings.

Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, famously waived its application fees in 2008 and has offered free applications ever since. This institution is known for its strong academic programs in business, law, public health, engineering, science, liberal arts, and architecture. Tulane also offers a range of graduate schools, including a Law School and a School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Wellesley College in Massachusetts does not charge a fee to apply. This women's liberal arts college is known for its strong alumni network, emphasis on academic excellence and global programs, research opportunities, and leadership development.


Beloit College in Wisconsin is another small liberal arts school without application fees. Beloit is known for its innovative, interdisciplinary, and flexible liberal arts curriculum, active learning and research opportunities, and emphasis on community engagement.

Baylor University in Texas does not require an application fee. It is known for its strong business school, outstanding law school, social work program, honors college, and sports offerings.

US military schools like the US Military Academy, the US Naval Academy, and the US Air Force Academy do not charge application fees. These schools are great options for students looking to pursue careers in the military.

Public Universities with No Application Fee

A number of institutions in Texas are waiving application fees for domestic students, including The University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley. These schools still charge application fees for international students.

Public schools sometimes waive application fees for residents of the state. It is worth researching each public institution you are interested in applying to in order to determine whether they have a fee waiver policy for state residents.


How to Find More Colleges with No Application Fee

Now that you have a better understanding of the colleges that don't charge an application fee, you might want to explore more options. Here are a couple of avenues to help you uncover additional colleges with no application fee.

Utilizing Online Resources

The internet can be a treasure trove of information when it comes to researching colleges. Several websites compile and update lists of institutions that waive application fees while offering additional details about each college, such as their location, programs offered, and reputations.

In addition to websites, social media platforms and online forums can also be valuable resources. Joining college-related groups or following college admissions accounts on platforms like Instagram and Twitter can provide you with real-time updates on colleges that waive application fees. You may even come across personal experiences and recommendations from current or former students.

Contacting College Admissions Offices

If you have a particular college in mind and are unsure about their application fee policy, don't hesitate to reach out to their admissions office. Admissions representatives are there to assist you and can provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding their application process and associated costs.

When contacting college admissions offices, it's important to be prepared with specific questions. Inquire about the college's application fee policy, any exceptions or waivers available, and any additional requirements that may affect the application process. Admissions representatives can also provide insights into scholarships, financial aid, and other opportunities that can help alleviate the financial burden of college applications.

Remember to be polite and professional when communicating with college admissions offices. They receive numerous inquiries, so being respectful and concise in your communication will help ensure a positive interaction.

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colleges that dont have application fees

Tips for Applying to Colleges with No Application Fee

Just because the application fee is waived doesn't mean you should approach the process any less seriously. Here are some tips to ensure a successful application to colleges with no application fee.

Ensuring You Meet the Eligibility Criteria

While the elimination of the application fee certainly opens doors, it's essential to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for your desired colleges. Pay attention to admission requirements, such as GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular involvement.

Meeting the eligibility criteria is crucial because it determines whether you have a realistic chance of being admitted to a particular college. Reflect on your academic performance and extracurricular experiences and consider how they align with the college's requirements.

If your GPA falls slightly below the average, for example, or your scores on standardized tests, you may want to highlight other aspects of your application, such as your involvement in community service or leadership roles. It can be helpful to speak with current students at the institution or to visit the school to get a better idea of whether it is a good match for you.

Additionally, it's important to research each college's specific admission requirements. Many schools have additional criteria for acceptance into specialized programs, such as specific courses or portfolios. By familiarizing yourself with these requirements, you can ensure that you are well-prepared and meet all the necessary criteria.

colleges with no application fees

Crafting a Strong Application

Although the financial barrier is removed, colleges that don't charge an application fee still expect compelling and well-crafted applications. Take the time to thoroughly research each institution, tailor your essays, and highlight your unique experiences and accomplishments. A strong application will increase your chances of admission.

When crafting your application, it's important to remember that you are not just a list of grades and test scores. Admissions officers want to get to know you as an individual and understand what makes you unique. Take the opportunity to showcase your passions, interests, and personal growth throughout your high school years.

Thoroughly research each college to which you are applying. Familiarize yourself with their mission, values, and academic programs. This will allow you to tailor your application to each institution and demonstrate your genuine interest in attending. Admissions officers appreciate applicants who have taken the time to understand their college's culture and can articulate why they are a good fit.

Your essays play a crucial role in your application. Use them as an opportunity to tell your story and provide insights into your character, motivations, and aspirations. Be authentic and avoid using generic or cliché statements. Instead, focus on specific experiences that have shaped you and explain how they have influenced your desire to attend college.

Remember to proofread your application thoroughly. Typos and grammatical errors can detract from an otherwise strong application. Ask a trusted teacher, counselor, or family member to review your application and provide feedback. Fresh eyes can often catch mistakes that you may have overlooked.

By following these tips, you can navigate the application process for colleges with no application fee with confidence and increase your chances of being admitted to your desired institutions. Remember, even though the financial barrier may be removed, it's important to approach the process with the same level of dedication and commitment as you would for any other college application.

Considering Other Factors in Your College Decision

Ultimately, your college choice should be a comprehensive decision, taking into account all aspects of your desired college experience. Consider factors such as academic programs, campus culture, location, and financial aid opportunities.

While the absence of an application fee is undoubtedly enticing, it should not be the sole determining factor in your college decision. Don't let the absence of an application fee overshadow other critical elements that will contribute to your academic and personal growth during your college years.


Frequently Asked Questions about Colleges with No Application Fee

What Ivy League schools have no application fees?

Unfortunately, all Ivy League colleges charge application fees at relatively high prices compared to other schools. This high fee is because these institutions have high volumes of applicants with an incredibly low acceptance rate. Ivy League schools offer waivers to students demonstrating financial need to avoid the costs of the application fees.

How do I qualify for an application fee waiver?

Application fee waivers are dispersed at the discretion of each college. While there are general guidelines for fee waiver qualification, such as income eligibility, living in federally subsidized housing, living in a foster home, participating in a reduced-price lunch program, or whether your family receives public assistance, many schools will grant fee waivers at their discretion based on additional considerations.

For example, a local program might grant waivers to applicants from a specific county or state. If you believe you may qualify for a fee waiver, it is best to contact the admissions offices of the schools you are most interested in applying to for more information.

How can I reduce the cost of college?

Beyond applying to schools without application fees, you can reduce college expenses by applying for scholarships. Searching for scholarships by major or by your demographic information is a great way to find scholarships that are the best fit for you.

Here at, you can explore our Scholarship Blog for more information on reducing college expenses and learn how to apply for scholarships today! Editorial Team
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