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So, you’ve made up your mind about wanting to study at a US university. Congratulations!

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to this lengthy process, but what’s the one thing absolutely everyone ends up having to do? Research! Extensive research. Endless research. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there about going to the US to study: everything ranging from choosing universities and programs, to which areas in a specific city have good accommodation prospects for students who want to live off-campus. The application process itself is one that tends to raise numerous questions, especially in terms of the application fee. How much do I need to pay per application? Can I apply for an application fee waiver? What are the terms and conditions? Are there any US universities without application fees?

See? So many questions! But don’t worry. In this post, we will guide you through the options and possibilities when it comes to navigating US university application fees.

In this blog

  1. How Much Does Applying to US Universities Cost?
  2. Top US Universities Accepting Application Fee Waivers
  3. US Universities with No Application Fees

How Much Does Applying to US Universities Cost?

The average application fee for US universities typically ranges from US$50-250 per application (roughly between INR 4200-21000), and these costs can add up significantly when considering the fact that most students apply to several universities in one application cycle. For instance, if you are applying to 6-7 universities, and the average application fee is US$80, you could be paying anything between US$480-560, which translates to an amount in the range of INR 40,000-47,000! Yikes. That’s a lot.

The process of preparing to study in the US is an expensive one, and once you’re there, you’re faced with steep costs of living, hefty tuition fees, and a myriad of other expenses. Thus, it is important to manage your money and try to cut costs wherever possible. Thankfully, in some cases, you can circumvent the application fee. First, let’s take a look at some universities that provide the opportunity to apply for a fee waiver.

Top US Universities Accepting Application Fee Waivers

For many students, the application fee for US universities on the top shelf itself acts as a deterrent to the possibility of them applying. But it doesn’t have to be like that. If you meet each university’s listed requirements, you could absolutely be eligible for application fee waivers. Here are some top schools accepting waivers:

  1. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
  2. As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Yale University has an acceptance rate of 5.3%. Other than being a dream to attend for many, Yale is famous (or rather, infamous) for one other thing: its notoriously steep application fees. The undergrad admissions application fee is $80, for Master’s and PhD applications it is $105, and for applying to the Yale School of Management, it is $250. Ouch.

    Thankfully, Yale accepts application fee waivers. The $80 undergrad admissions application fee can be waived if you are unable to pay it under any circumstances due to your financial situation. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences can waive application fees depending on the following criteria:

    • Participation in a special program, event, fellowship, or status
    • Documented financial hardship

    The Yale School of Management accepts fee waivers on a sliding-scale basis. In other words, Yale will adjust its application fees based on your income. As mentioned above, Yale SOM standard application fees are $250. For applicants earning less than $40,000 a year, the application fee is $175. For applicants earning less than $20,000 a year, it is $125. The Yale School of Management does not accept need-based application fee waivers.

  3. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
  4. Though a little intimidating with an acceptance rate of only 4%, the great thing about the world-famous Harvard University is that its application system is completely need-blind. For undergraduate admissions, the application fee is $85. You can request a fee waiver directly through the Common Application. You must meet at least one indicator of financial need in the Fee Waiver section of your application profile to be eligible. In case you do not meet one of the indicators, Harvard provides the code on their website that you can enter instead on your application fee payment page.

  5. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  6. With an acceptance rate of 7%, the much sought-after Northeastern University charges a fee of $75 as part of your undergraduate college application. However, you can apply for a need-based application fee waiver through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, through organisations like ACT and the College Board, or in a written request from a school official. Northeastern’s Graduate School of Engineering charges an application fee of $100. But don’t fret! This fee is completely waived for those applying to MS Internet of Things, MS Wireless and Network Engineering, and MS Information Systems Bridge, for the fall 2024 and spring 2025 sessions.

  7. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  8. Carnegie Mellon is known as one of the best universities for research and technical studies. With a competitive acceptance rate of 13.5%, CMU is best-known for its world-class Computer Science program.

    For undergraduate applications, Carnegie Mellon’s application fee is $75. Luckily, need-based fee waivers will be accepted from students who meet at least one indicator of economic need as stated on the Common Application. Most Carnegie Mellon graduate schools accept waivers from Carnegie Mellon students and alumni, certain scholars, and need-based waivers from those facing financial hardship.

To learn more about the complete process of applying to US universities, talk to a counsellor today!

US Universities with No Application Fees

Apart from those listed above, there are some US universities with no application fees whatsoever, independent of any special qualifications, such as financial hardship or involvement in special programs. It may be hard to believe at first, but it’s completely true! Let’s take a look at some of these universities:

  1. Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI)
  2. Michigan Tech charges a $10 processing fee per application for international applicants, but other than that, there is no application fee.

  3. Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, WI)
  4. Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO)
  5. Saint Louis University charges no application fee for undergraduate applications.

  6. Drake University (Des Moines, IA)
  7. University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)
  8. St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY)

We hope that this list was helpful. Always remember that when applying to universities in the US, it is important to do thorough research and to stay updated on everything at all times. The information and figures above are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the aforementioned universities, so always make sure to double-check everything on their respective websites. If you have questions about the application process of a specific university, don’t hesitate to contact an admissions official! It’s always better to ask questions and be armed with accurate information than to regret not knowing. All the best!

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