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College application fees are insurance policies

TUES.| 10-25-22 | OPINION

     There are multiple steps that students have to take when applying for college. They first need to pick where they want to apply, write main and possible supplementary essays for each college, send test scores and secure recommendation letters. It can be a stressful process for students due to the amount of work that is necessary to increase your chances of being accepted, especially if they are applying to multiple colleges. In order to stand out, applicants have to guarantee that what they submit is their best representation of themselves and reflects the quality of their work. When all is said and done, and students are finally ready to submit, a crucial requirement must be completed. Paying an application fee.

     Application fees are required for most colleges. They require fees because they want to ensure that the students who apply to their school are serious about 

college app fees

Graphic by Emmy Ingalls 

attending. Colleges believe that if they make students pay to apply, then they will be more likely to attend if accepted. It is their attempt to stop students from frivolously applying to several colleges and wasting admissions’ time. However, filling out multiple applications just for the sake of it is often not the intention of students. Even if it were, shouldn’t it be the choice of the student to spend the time needed to apply? 

     For each application, the applicant must sit down and devote hours of time to finish. A college application, and the needed amount of completion time, varies depending on the essay requirements and the amount of questions asked. It is a lot of work and can be stressful for students. Applicants have to find time in their day to work on their applications while balancing things like school, a job, extracurricular activities and a personal life. So why would a student sit down and carve out more hours of their day to apply to a school if they were not seriously considering it? I personally struggle to find the time that is needed to sit down, plan out an essay, and then write and edit said essay. I’m only applying to a handful of schools because I don’t have the time to sit down and fill out 20 applications because I’m busy working on extra curriculars and writing essays for other classes in my free time.

     Time itself is worth a lot. Colleges should not use the excuse that they put these fees in place to guarantee that their applicants are serious about wanting to attend. A student is not likely to apply to dozens of schools just because they feel a need to because that is more work for them. 

     In addition, application fees are not fair to those who cannot afford them. While there is free application week for North Carolina schools, the number of schools that participate this free week are very limited. It’s often private schools included in the free application week that tend to be not as popular as other North Carolina schools. Application week happens later in the month and often passes when early action or decision applications are due. The free week, while still an option, does not work for several students. For example, I want to apply to five North Carolina schools. Out of those five schools only one of my colleges apply for free week. Therefore, I will only be able to save 75 dollars. This doesn’t help me at all compared to how much I’m still going to end up spending. 

     Even though there are fee waivers, they are only applicable if you are in great need of them. If you do not qualify for any form of a fee waiver, then there is no way to cut the costs of all the colleges fees. You already have to pay to attend the college, get textbooks and now to simply apply? College application fees add up very quickly as well. The average cost for an application fee is 50 to 90 dollars. Say you are applying to two colleges, then that is at least one hundred dollars spent, which adds up fast. If these fees are necessary, then I believe that they should be maxed at 30 dollars. 

     It adds up so fast that students and their families may end up spending hundreds of dollars applying to a college they are not guaranteed to get into. You are paying to receive a letter saying either you have been accepted or rejected. Then even if you are accepted, you have to continue to pay for the price of college and everything that comes with it. It is not entirely fair to applicants and puts them at a disadvantage if they do want to spend time applying to more schools, but cannot submit because they are not able to afford the fee to even apply. 

     It feels like college application fees are just another way for colleges to make a quick buck. If these fees are entirely necessary then there should be a maximum fee a college can charge for someone to apply. Fees are simply unfair to students. Applying to college is stressful enough, there should not be financial stress added on top of it.

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