If you qualified for fee waivers to take the SAT or ACT, or are a participant in the free or reduced lunch program, then you should qualify for four (4) fee waivers to assist in the cost of applying to college. Having spent several of my professional years advising low income students, here are a few tips I have learned along the way to help explain the process.
1. If/When you register for the SAT, you will be asked which four colleges you want your first four score reports sent to. Your score reports will be sent to those four colleges at no charge. However, any additional score reports will be charged a fee. It will be about $11.25 per report (price subject to change – verify with College Board).
2. If you are applying to any of the 23 CSU (California State University) campuses, instead of sending your test scores to each individual campus, use the code 3594. Your scores will be sent to ALL of your CSU campuses for ONE fee.
3. Apply for fee waivers from NACAC. Your high school should have the form, but if not, here is the link to the form that you can print and give to your counselor (or the person who authorizes fee waivers, as every school's system is different). http://www.nacacnet.org/studentinfo/feewaiver/pages/default.aspx
4. Apply for fee waivers from College Board. This should happen automatically when you send in your test scores from the College Board (if you took the SAT) but if not, here is the link to learn more about the four fee waivers you will receive. https://student.collegeboard.org/apply-to-4
5. If you are applying to private colleges, ask the representative if they would be willing to waive your application fee. It certainly can't hurt to ask. Be prepared to demonstrate financial need.
6. If you plan on taking the ACT, work with your high school to determine if you are eligible for a fee waiver. Here is some additional information. http://www.actstudent.org/faq/feewaiver.html
7. Be strategic and realistic in where you apply. Make sure your college list is balanced and that you are setting yourself up for a positive application experience.