Monday, February 26, 2024

These Are the 60 Ranked US Colleges Without Application Fees [2024]

Ditch the "broke" phase by being money-smart before you start college.

There’s no doubt about it: college application fees can quickly pile up. But who would’ve thought that the costs start once you reach the application stage? 💸

For example, college application fees in the US range from $30 to $90 (with an average of $45). This means that you can rack up hundreds of dollars in fees before getting a single acceptance letter. 😬

But, there’s a surefire way to avoid spending a small fortune before you officially enroll — go for colleges without application fees! 🥳 We’ve thrown in handy tips to get the most bang for your buck, too. 

Why Go for a College With No Application Fee?

Normally, students are advised to apply to five to eight colleges, which means paying up to $360 (average application fee multiplied by eight) from the get-go. 

This sounds like a measly sum, but add in SAT or ACT fees (which can grow if you’re planning to submit scores to more than four colleges), and you’re left with a thinner wallet before you even enroll. 😵‍💫

That’s not all, though. Remember that you also have to spend on travel, meals, and accommodation during campus visits or in-person interviews

Requesting your high school transcript and submitting paper applications come with more fees, too. So, it’s best to consider schools where zero fees or waivers are possible. 💸

Good to know: More than 80 percent of four-year colleges are now test-optional, meaning that they don’t require SAT/ACT scores to assess student applications.

There are tons of colleges without application fees that offer good programs and extracurriculars, so start your college research as early as possible. Photo: freepic.diller/Freepik

Colleges without application fees can save you hundreds of dollars, especially since most students are advised to apply to multiple colleges based on three categories. 🏫

  • Reach schools are often prestigious colleges where there’s a narrow chance of being accepted, like Ivy League schools
  • Target schools are colleges you’re most likely to get into due to your credentials
  • Safety schools are those with high acceptance rates because of flexible standards 

What to Know Before Choosing a College With No Application Fee

Application fees exist to cover the costs of processing student applications and to narrow down applicants to only the most eager and qualified. 🧑‍🎓

But some liberal arts schools and faith-based colleges with zero application fees prioritize inclusivity, so they remove anything that can act as a barrier. 

A trio of high school seniors researches different colleges without application fees on a laptop
Many liberal arts, Christian, and small colleges typically have zero application fees, but some prestigious universities also offer waivers. Photo: pressfoto/Freepik

But application fees alone should not be the main driver when choosing a college. Other core details will help form an accurate opinion, such as school accreditation, non-refundable enrollment deposit fees, and rich programs with career-building opportunities. 

READ MORE: Is Your College Bankrupt? How to Check a University’s Financial Health

If a no-fee school isn’t up to your standards or doesn’t have any programs you’re interested in, then there’s no real reason to ignore colleges that charge application fees. 

Good to know: Many schools with application fees offer student financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and waivers that can offset the cost of attendance. 👍

READ MORE: College vs. Trade School: Which Choice Is Right for You?

Other Ways to Reduce College Application Fees

A female incoming college first-year reviews available colleges without application fees with the school counselor
College comes at a high cost, but you can research or seek the help of education professionals for waivers, scholarships, and eligible discounts to slash the price. Photo: Freepik

A secret to reducing the bill on college applications is to acquire an SAT or ACT fee waiver to make standardized tests (and the subsequent delivery of results to your target schools) free of charge. 👍

All you have to do is meet at least one of the eligibility requirements:

  • A low-income 11th- or 12th-grade student
  • An orphan or a ward of the state
  • Eligible or enrolled in the National School Lunch Program
  • Family income falls within the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Income Eligibility Guidelines
  • Enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that helps students from low-income families
  • Recipient of family public assistance
  • Live in a foster home or housing subsidized by the federal government

Visiting the college can work wonders because some schools waive application fees for students who drop by the campus, such as the University of Richmond and Hampden-Sydney College. This option is not commonly advertised among schools, so you might have to inquire directly from the college admissions office to confirm.

You can also apply for a formal waiver through the Common App or the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). 😉

A diverse group of five college students walking to class in their college without application fees
Colleges with zero application fees tend to value diversity and inclusivity, which can create a rich learning environment. Photo: drobotdean/Freepik

Handling college applications online through websites like Coalition, Common App, or the school’s personal application system can erase fees because this process is less labor-intensive.  

To save even more cash, consider cheap colleges, free community colleges, schools that accept fee waivers, or those that don’t have application fees from the get-go — like the ones on the list below! 

READ MORE: How to Transfer Colleges: All You Need to Know

Complete List of US Colleges That You Can Apply to for Free

CollegeLocationTHE RankingTypeAcceptance RateNotes
Arkansas Tech UniversityRussellville, ArkansasUnrankedPublic94 percent
Baylor UniversityWaco, Texas114Private57 percent
Beloit CollegeBeloit, WisconsinUnrankedPrivate67 percent
Berry CollegeMount Berry, GeorgiaUnrankedPrivate70 percent
Carleton CollegeNorthfield, MinnesotaUnrankedPrivate18 percent
Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland, Ohio41Private30 percentThere’s a $70 application fee but it can be waived.
Centre CollegeDanville, KentuckyUnrankedPrivate69 percent
Colby CollegeWaterville, MaineUnrankedPrivate9 percent
Colorado CollegeColorado Springs, ColoradoUnrankedPrivate14 percent
Connecticut CollegeNew London, ConnecticutUnrankedPrivate41 percent
Creighton UniversityOmaha, Nebraska=161Private78 percent
Denison UniversityGranville, OhioUnrankedPrivate28 percent
DePauw UniversityGreencastle, IndianaUnrankedPrivate65 percent
Earlham CollegeRichmond, IndianaUnrankedPrivate69 percent
Florida Institute of TechnologyMelbourne, Florida=161Private66 percent
Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, ArizonaUnrankedPrivate85 percent
Grinnell CollegeGrinnell, IowaUnrankedPrivate11 percent
Gustavus Adolphus CollegeSaint Peter, MinnesotaUnrankedPrivate73 percent
Hampshire CollegeAmherst, MassachusettsUnrankedPrivate75 percent
Hendrix CollegeConway, ArkansasUnrankedPrivate68 percent
Hillsdale CollegeHillsdale, MichiganUnrankedPrivate24 percentThere’s a $30 application fee but it can be waived if you apply online.
Hobart and William Smith CollegesGeneva, New YorkUnrankedPrivate67 percent
Hope CollegeHolland, MichiganUnrankedPrivate92 percent
Illinois Wesleyan UniversityBloomington, IllinoisUnrankedPrivate45 percent
Juniata CollegeHuntingdon, PennsylvaniaUnrankedPrivate74 percent
Kenyon CollegeGambier, OhioUnrankedPrivate37 percent
Lake Forest CollegeLake Forest, IllinoisUnrankedPrivate64 percent
Lawrence UniversityAppleton, WisconsinUnrankedPrivate75 percent
Lewis and Clark CollegePortland, OregonUnrankedPrivate79 percent
Loyola University ChicagoChicago, IllinoisUnrankedPrivate77 percent
Macalester CollegeSaint Paul, MinnesotaUnrankedPrivate31 percent
Marquette UniversityMilwaukee, Wisconsin=136Private86 percent
Michigan Technological UniversityHoughton, MichiganUnrankedPublic86 percent
Milwaukee School of EngineeringMilwaukee, WisconsinUnrankedPrivate67 percent
Missouri University of Science and TechnologyRolla, Missouri=106Public85 percent
Ohio Wesleyan UniversityDelaware, OhioUnrankedPrivate74 percent
Presbyterian CollegeClinton, South CarolinaUnrankedPrivate71 percent
Reed CollegePortland, OregonUnrankedPrivate44 percent
Regis UniversityDenver, ColoradoUnrankedPrivate81 percent
Rhodes CollegeMemphis, TennesseeUnrankedPrivate57 percent
Rollins CollegeWinter Park, FloridaUnrankedPrivate49 percent
Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis, Missouri70Private70 percent
Sewanee: The University of the SouthSewanee, TennesseeUnrankedPrivate60 percent
Southwestern UniversityGeorgetown, TexasUnrankedPrivate51 percent
St. Olaf CollegeNorthfield, MinnesotaUnrankedPrivate47 percent
The College of IdahoCaldwell, IdahoUnrankedPrivate56 percent
The College of WoosterWooster, OhioUnrankedPrivate61 percent
Transylvania UniversityLexington, KentuckyUnrankedPrivate92 percent
Trinity UniversitySan Antonio, TexasUnrankedPrivate34 percent
Tulane UniversityNew Orleans, Louisiana82Private10 percent
United States Air Force AcademyUSAF Academy, ColoradoUnrankedPublic12 percent– 
United States Merchant Marine AcademyKings Point, New YorkUnrankedPublic25 percent
United States Military Academy at West PointWest Point, New YorkUnrankedPublic11 percent
University of DaytonDayton, Ohio136Private81 percent
University of St. Thomas – MinnesotaSaint Paul, MinnesotaUnrankedPrivate76 percentApplication fee is free if done online.
University of Texas – Rio Grande ValleyEdinburg, Texas=161Public94 percent
Ursinus CollegeCollegeville, PennsylvaniaUnrankedPrivate83 percentApplication fee is free if done online.
Wheaton College – IllinoisWheaton, IllinoisUnrankedPrivate86 percent
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcester, Massachusetts=136Private60 percent
Yale UniversityNew Haven, Connecticut7Private5 percentThere’s an $80 application fee but it can be waived.

Start your college journey on the right foot by knowing how to budget, and checking out colleges without application fees can be your first step. ✅ The money kept in your piggy bank can be used to pay for anticipated college expenses, such as your room and board or student loans. 

Happy hunting! 😉

Ranked US Colleges Without Application Fees: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a college application fee?

A college application fee is charged by educational institutions to cover the costs of reviewing student applications and to control the number of applications they receive. However, there are many US colleges without application fees nowadays. 

What is the average cost of application fees?

How can I skip college application fees?

Which Ivy League has the lowest application fees?

Do all Ivy Leagues have an application fee?

Can you get accepted into a college without paying the application fee?

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