United States Universities with Application Fee Waivers: Free for International Students

When considering studying in the United States (US), financial planning becomes crucial, especially for international students who might have to deal with currency differences. The US is renowned for hosting some of the world’s top universities, offering quality education that comes at a cost. However, application fees, which can range from $40 to $150 per university, can significantly add up when applying to multiple institutions, potentially exceeding $1000. To alleviate this financial burden, it’s prudent to explore universities that offer application fee waivers or do not charge any fees at all.

When considering studying in the United States (US), financial planning becomes crucial, especially for international students who might have to deal with currency differences.

Securing an Application Fee Waiver Involves a Few Strategies

  1. Common Application Fee Waivers: Some universities allow students to request fee waivers through their application platforms. This option is available to students who can demonstrate financial need and provide reasons for the waiver.

  2. Direct University Contact: Certain universities have specific eligibility criteria for granting fee waivers. To access this information, prospective students are advised to thoroughly research universities’ official websites.

  3. College Board Fee Waivers: Students who have received fee waivers for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT might also be eligible for application fee waivers. Checking the College Board website for eligibility details is recommended.

  4. Automatic Application Fee Waivers: Certain US universities waive application fees entirely, making it possible for aspiring students to apply without any associated costs.

Several US Universities Provide Application Fee Waivers For International Students

  1. Harvard University: As one of the top-ranked universities globally, Harvard University offers fee waivers to financially disadvantaged students. Applicants must complete a waiver form, detailing their income, personal information, and reasons for requesting the waiver.

  2. Yale University: This prestigious institution, Yale University, employs a sliding scale approach to offer fee waivers. The application fee depends on the applicant’s family income. Yale University’s School of Arts and Sciences also grants fee waivers based on special program participation and documented financial hardships.

  3. Northeastern University (NEU): Ranked 50th in the QS world university rankings, Northeastern University (NEU) provides undergraduate need-based fee waivers for $75. The university considers applications for fee waivers based on financial need, making it accessible for economically disadvantaged students.

  4. Colorado State University: While Colorado State University offers fee waivers for financial hardships, they also consider affiliations with specific programs. Applying for a fee waiver does not impact the application process.

  5. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU): CMU offers fee waivers for international students, particularly in the School of Computer Science and the software and societal systems department. Students need to demonstrate financial need through a financial aid letter.

Navigating the Application Process for Universities with Fee Waivers Involves These Steps

  1. Research universities offering desired programs without application fees.

  2. Verify eligibility criteria.

  3. Prepare required standardized tests and documents.

  4. Complete the online application form.

  5. Apply for scholarships.

  6. Await acceptance and follow the university’s instructions for confirmation and tuition payment.

For Universities without Fee Waivers, the Process Generally Includes

  1. Researching preferred universities based on the desired course.

  2. Checking eligibility criteria.

  3. Taking required standardized tests (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT).

  4. Compiling necessary documents like transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation.

  5. Filling out accurate application forms and paying the application fees.

  6. Awaiting acceptance notification from the university.

Apart from application fees, international students should budget for additional expenses, including English language test fees (IELTS, TOEFL), GRE and GMAT fees for graduate admissions, SAT and ACT fees for undergraduate admissions, visa processing fees, SEVIS fees, health insurance, airfare, and more. Being mindful of these costs ensures comprehensive financial planning for an enriching academic journey in the United States.

List of 20 Universities and Colleges Offering Application Fee Waivers


Universities & Colleges



Yale University



Wellesley College



Carleton College



Smith College



Case Western Reserve University



Grinnell College



Tulane College



Colby College



Macalester College



Reed College



Kenyon College



Colorado College



DePaul University



Trinity University



Denison University



St. Louis University



Rhodes College



Union College

New York


Illinois Wesleyan College



Drake University


These universities offer various application deadlines for prospective international students to consider while applying for admission.

In brief, studying in the US demands careful financial consideration, with application fees often exceeding $1000. To mitigate these costs, international students can explore universities offering fee waivers or no fees at all. Notable institutions like Harvard, Yale, Northeastern, Colorado State, and Carnegie Mellon provide fee waivers, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning for a successful application process.

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