Research shows that among the numerous systemic barriers that raise doubts for low- and middle-income students considering four-year colleges, application costs are a financial hindrance.
The average fee nationally is $50 for all nonprofit schools, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The organization found public colleges were more likely to report having an application fee than private ones – 91% vs. 57%. If a student applies to four or five schools, the total cost could be in the hundreds of dollars – and in most cases, the fee is not refundable.
Such news shows the importance of the National College Application Week, which begins on Monday. Admission fees will be waived by Purdue University Fort Wayne, Indiana State University, IUPU Indianapolis, Purdue Northwest, the University of Southern Indiana and Martin University.
Purdue Fort Wayne charges a $30 nonrefundable application. A waiver is available if the student is a 21st Century Scholar or if they’re a Purdue Fort Wayne Collegiate Connection (dual credit) student. USI charges $40. Both Indiana State and IUPUI require a $65 application fee.
“We are excited to see the significant number of Indiana institutions participating in College Application Week,” said Chris Lowery, Indiana commissioner for higher education. “We hope all high school seniors will utilize this opportunity to apply for free to their preferred colleges.”
Remarkably, some of the state’s private institutions do not charge an application fee. Among the 33 colleges listed as having free applications year-round are Manchester University, Huntington University, the University of Saint Francis, Indiana Tech, Trine University, all Ivy Tech Community College campuses, Taylor University, Indiana Wesleyan, DePauw University, Earlham College and Wabash College.
These schools have regional and national reputations based on college ranking guides. If you can apply for free, why not go for it?
College application week coincides with Learn More Indiana’s annual College GO! initiative that officially kicks off next week. College GO! information and resources are designed to help Hoosier K-12 students explore and plan for education beyond high school.
Friday is #WhyApply Day, a social media campaign encouraging the public to share why it’s important to apply to college. (Find more information at resources.learnmoreindiana.org/ collegego)
“College GO! is an opportunity for students of all ages – from kindergarten to high school seniors – to learn the value of education and training beyond high school, explore career pathways and discover the variety of Indiana postsecondary options,” Lowery said.
Programs such as application week and College GO! can only help stem the disturbing decline in the percentage of Indiana students going directly to college. The Commission for Higher Education’s readiness report found the college-going rate for students in 2020 was 53% – a 10-point drop from the year before. The steepness was most likely because of the pandemic. But there are also practical concerns such as student debt, as well as existential ones including the usefulness of a chosen degree.
Whether a high school student ultimately decides to go to college or not, removing barriers like admission fees can help them consider options and make an informed choice.