Rising college tuition and fees have been well studied and reported in the media. The cost of attendance at many of the most selective private colleges and universities can top $60,000 per year. Even as families work hard to save for that major expense and plan to apply for financial aid they are surprised by the cost of the college search and application process, which, if a student isn’t careful, can approach $10,000.
Here’s a summary of what to expect:
Application fees: $200 – $500.
The average application fee is nearly forty dollars, according to US News and World Report. Stanford University has the highest application fee at $90. But you don’t have to fork you’re your credit card to apply to some schools. Many colleges and universities don’t charge an application fee, and, at some schools, application fees are waived if you visited the school and toured and/or attended an information session. Ask about fee waivers when you visit campus.
The College Board offers application fee for low-income students who qualified for SAT fee waivers (see below). If you’re eligible for college application fee waivers, you’ll receive them in the fall of your senior year. For more information, visit the College Board’s site on application fee waivers.
Standardized test fees: $160 – nearly $700.
The SAT costs $54.50 per sitting, and the registration fee comes with four free score reports that can be sent to colleges. Any additional score reports cost $11.25 each. Because many students aren’t sure where they will apply in the spring of their junior year, when most high school students first take the test, they usually have to pay fees to send scores later. Additionally, the fee for any of the SAT Subject Test will cost $26 for non-language tests, and $52 for language tests.
SAT fee waivers are available to low-income 11th and 12th grade students in the U.S. or U.S. territories and U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. may be able to have test fees waived. SAT Subject Test fee waivers are available for students in grades nine through 12. For more information, visit the College Board page on fee waivers.
ACT fees: $39.50. The ACT also comes with four free score reports, with additional reports at $12 each. The ACT Plus Writing Test, required by some colleges, costs $56.50.
Fee waivers are also available for the ACT.
The TOEFL is a test of English language proficiency for applicants whose first language isn’t English. The fee for a test in the United States in $190, not including score reports. TOEFL does have a fee reduction serve. Learn more here.
College visits: Thousands.
College visits, depending on distances and locations of schools, can cost in the thousands of dollars after adding travel, food, lodging and other expenses. Many colleges give preference to students who “demonstrate interest” in the school, and visiting campus is a sure way to show you are interested. Bankrate.com has some tips on ways to save on college visits.
Housing deposits: $100-$350.
The deposit holds a place for a student’s housing on or near campus, varies in cost by college, and is usually non-refundable. Sometimes these are due before the National Reply Date, May 1. If a housing deposit is due before May 1, then it is usually refundable if you decided to attend another school.
Tuition deposits: $50-$500.
This deposit confirms enrollment for a student in a college, and is typically due no later than May 1. Tuition deposits vary by school, and are usually non-refundable. Students generally submit only one tuition deposit. The exception to that rule is when a student is waiting to hear is she is admitted from the waiting list. In that case it is permitted to submit a tuition deposit to a college the student will attend if she is not admitted from the waiting list.
But wait, there’s more!
My Northwood School students and their families are fortunate because they have extensive individualized college counseling and standardized test prep available at the school. Families without such school-based resources may choose add on standardized test prep services (approx. $100 per session) and a college consultant (approx. $200/hour) that can double the costs of the college search and application process.
For more on the costs of applying to college, see Amy Scott’s article on Marketplace.