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Cut College Admission Fees

Cut College Admission Fees

Students spent an estimated $470 million on application fees for undergraduate admissions in 2015, based on data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data shows a total of 10,055,109 applications for admission and a weighted average application fee of $46.70.

About half of application fee revenue, $229 million, is spent by students whose applications are rejected. If current trends continue, the total annual spending on application fees is in excess of half a billion dollars.

How to Cut Application Fee Costs

Students can reduce their application fee costs with these tips:

  • Limit the number of applications submitted to reduce application and test score fees
  • Seek application fee waivers if you are eligible
  • Use free application platforms, such as the Cappex Application and Greenlight Scholars Application

Demographic Analysis of Application Fees  

Additional insights from the IPEDS data include:

  • $210 million in fees was from males and $259 million was from females
  • $279 million in fee revenue went to public schools, an average of $434,376 per school
  • $188 million in fee revenue went to private, nonprofit schools, averaging $156,451 per school
  • Fee revenue received by private, for-profit colleges was $2 million
  • Application fees from Pell Grant recipients was $138 million, or 29% of the total
  • Application fees from minority students are about $153 million, or 33% of the total
  • Application fees increased from $178 million in 2001 to $252 million in 2005 to $470 million in 2015

Selective Schools Charge Higher Application Fees

Schools that accept less than 20% of their applicants receive an average of $1.27 million per school, compared with $155,619 per school among those that accept 40% or more of applicants. The average application fees are $62.12 and $30.52, respectively.

This chart shows admissions fee revenue by selectivity, demonstrating that the most selective schools charge twice the application fees of less selective schools.

admissions fee revenue

A similar result occurs with admissions test scores. Higher ACT test scores correlate with higher application fees and higher total application fee revenue.

The average application fee is $74.73 for schools with a 75th percentile ACT test score of 34 or more, compared with $30.62 for a 75th percentile ACT test score of 21 or less.

admissions fee revenue

Top 25 Schools by Application Fee Revenue

This table shows the top 25 schools by total application fee revenue.

Institution

Application Fee

Fee Revenue

University of California-Los Angeles

$70

$6,488,300

University of California-Berkeley

$70

$5,522,510

University of California-San Diego

$70

$5,464,270

University of California-Irvine

$70

$5,024,250

University of California-Santa Barbara

$70

$4,937,520

University of California-Davis

$70

$4,522,140

Boston University

$80

$4,382,480

University of Southern California

$80

$4,153,920

New York University

$70

$4,040,890

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

$75

$3,884,775

Stanford University

$90

$3,824,730

Northeastern University

$75

$3,789,225

Cornell University

$80

$3,352,000

San Diego State University

$55

$3,247,805

California State University-Long Beach

$55

$3,195,995

University of California-Santa Cruz

$70

$3,187,240

The University of Texas at Austin

$75

$3,179,400

Columbia University in the City of New York

$85

$3,137,435

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

$75

$3,009,750

Fordham University

$70

$2,996,770

Harvard University

$75

$2,798,025

University of Pennsylvania

$75

$2,795,100

Purdue University-Main Campus

$60

$2,715,840

University of California-Riverside

$70

$2,695,770

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

$50

$2,673,600

This table shows the top 25 public schools by total application fee revenue.

Institution

Application Fee

Fee Revenue

University of California-Los Angeles

$70

$6,488,300

University of California-Berkeley

$70

$5,522,510

University of California-San Diego

$70

$5,464,270

University of California-Irvine

$70

$5,024,250

University of California-Santa Barbara

$70

$4,937,520

University of California-Davis

$70

$4,522,140

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

$75

$3,884,775

San Diego State University

$55

$3,247,805

California State University-Long Beach

$55

$3,195,995

University of California-Santa Cruz

$70

$3,187,240

The University of Texas at Austin

$75

$3,179,400

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

$75

$3,009,750

Purdue University-Main Campus

$60

$2,715,840

University of California-Riverside

$70

$2,695,770

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

$50

$2,673,600

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

$70

$2,578,800

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 

$55

$2,575,100

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

$55

$2,539,075

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

$80

$2,491,440

Texas A&M University-College Station

$75

$2,490,975

University of Connecticut

$70

$2,448,460

Ohio State University-Main Campus

$60

$2,414,400

California State University-Fullerton

$55

$2,301,255

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

$65

$2,297,100

University of Virginia-Main Campus

$70

$2,158,800

Lastly, this table shows the top 25 private schools by total application fee revenue.

Institution

Application Fee

Fee Revenue

Boston University

$80

$4,382,480

University of Southern California

$80

$4,153,920

New York University

$70

$4,040,890

Stanford University

$90

$3,824,730

Northeastern University

$75

$3,789,225

Cornell University

$80

$3,352,000

Columbia University-New York

$85

$3,137,435

Fordham University

$70

$2,996,770

Harvard University

$75

$2,798,025

University of Pennsylvania

$75

$2,795,100

Duke University

$85

$2,653,700

Syracuse University

$75

$2,494,050

Yale University

$80

$2,418,880

Northwestern University

$75

$2,409,150

University of Miami

$70

$2,339,330

Brown University

$75

$2,279,700

University of Chicago

$75

$2,255,175

Washington University in St Louis

$75

$2,194,425

Boston College

$70

$2,064,020

Hofstra University

$70

$1,959,370

Liberty University

$40

$1,957,440

St. John's University-New York

$50

$1,804,300

Johns Hopkins University

$70

$1,783,180

Princeton University

$65

$1,773,850

Dartmouth College

$80

$1,640,560

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