How to Get a College Application Fee Waiver

Applying to colleges can be overwhelming. Not only are you busy writing essays and filling out forms, but you also have to keep in mind the amount of money necessary to apply to all of the schools on your list.

If the financial burden of your applications is weighing you down, this is the blog for you! We’re going to discuss college application fee waivers: what they are, different types, and where you might go looking for one.

student at home laying on the floor with her face covered by a book surrounded by her laptop, notebooks, and a variety of work

SAT & ACT Fee Waivers

If you’re applying for college, it’s likely that you’re taking the SAT, ACT, or both. If so, we have good news: both of these tests have fee waiver programs that apply to select colleges and/or eligible students! These packages also defer the cost of the tests themselves, so it’s a win-win.

While the conditions for eligibility are pretty similar between the SAT and ACT programs, we recommend looking through both in detail to ensure you meet the qualifications. If you meet the requirements, make sure to speak with your school counselor — they can help you through the process of getting these waivers.

Common App, Coalition, & NACAC Fee Waivers

Hold on, there are more educational organizations that give out fee waivers? Yes! Common App, Coalition, and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) offer fee waivers for qualifying students.

The requirements to receive waivers from these three institutions are largely the same as those to get SAT and ACT waivers, so if you qualified for those, you’re likely to qualify for these as well. Again, these programs work with select colleges to lower the cost of applying for qualified students, so check to see if the universities you’re interested in participate.

Fee Waivers by College

Almost all colleges and universities have their own versions of the application fee waiver for qualifying students. These forms can typically be found through the college’s admissions office or financial aid office. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the college’s website, you can reach out directly to the admissions office and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Again, make sure you work with your counselor or a qualified individual when filling out these forms.

sunlit student at home applying for a fee waiver online

Applying for a Fee Waiver at UIUC

You can find the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign application fee waiver through our Office of Undergraduate Admissions website. It’s important to note that you do not fill out this form yourself to be submitted with your application. Instead, this form must be completed by your school counselor and submitted to UIUC by them on your behalf.

Kindly Request One

Sometimes, qualified candidates just aren’t eligible for fee waivers based on a combination of factors. If there’s a college you’re planning on applying to, sometimes asking for a fee waiver may be enough to receive one. Again, this strategy is by no means a guarantee, but it’s always worth asking.

Apply to Colleges Without Fees

If all else fails, consider applying to some colleges that don’t require application fees. There are plenty of schools around the country that don’t require application fees. To keep your options open, you can consider mixing one or two of these schools into your larger pool to mitigate costs. And, if you’re struggling to figure out how many schools to apply to, consider reading our blog on this very subject.

We hope we have illuminated you on all things fee-waiver related, and we wish you the best of luck applying to colleges in the most affordable way possible!

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

We're here for you as you prepare for college. Whether you're looking for guidance on the college search process or have questions about Illinois, we hope our blogs will help!


  • Is there any application fee waiver for international students applying for graduate programms?

  • Hi Ali, and thanks for reaching out. We’re the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at UIUC. For information related to graduate programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Graduate College: