The Real Cost of College: Application Season

Sidney NiBo
2 min readAug 2, 2019


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The back to school season has just begun. If you’re going to be a senior in high school and you’re anything like me that doesn’t fill you with any small amount of nerves. I remember counting down the days till college applications were due. Looking back at it now as I am about to head to college, I thought I would share some of my “wisdom” on paying for things.

First things first, sticker price. That massive price you see when you Google a school? Yeah, it costs more than that to attend. The number that is usually thrown around and shows up on sites like US News and other ranking sites is tuition.

Tuition is the money you give the school to be able to take classes. Add to that there is room and board, books and other fees and the cost of attending the school is often much more. But we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves, first we have to get in.

The application process for colleges (at least in the US) can get pretty pricey. Of course this is dependent upon how many schools you choose to apply to. The average cost for an application during my time was around $75. Keep in mind this is an average. Some schools like Colby College and Tulane University do not charge a fee to apply. On the other hand, schools like Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Duke charge $85–90 to apply. There is also the chance of some schools offering you a waived or reduced application fee to encourage you to apply.

A lot of schools from state to Ivy are willing to provide fee waivers if the cost is preventing you from applying. Don’t be afraid to ask! It doesn’t negatively effect your chances of acceptance.

In addition to requesting for waivers from schools you can use QuestBridge. QuestBridge is a non-profit that helps assist low-income students with getting into top schools. The National College Match program offers full four year scholarships to students who match with schools. Best of all? Applications to all forty schools (including some heavy hitters like Columbia, MIT, and Princeton, is free!

Even if you don’t match don’t worry. You can still apply to schools regularly. Also, some schools offer waivers for QuestBridge participants or those from other programs. If you’re interested in QuestBridge check it out here:

Thanks for reading! If you need any help or found this helpful drop a comment below. Stay tuned for my next article on tuition and fees!