THE TALON

The Real Cost

How much does it cost to apply to college?

You+know+getting+that+diploma+will+be+expensive%2C+but+what+about+just+the+application+process+to+be+eligible+for+that+diploma%3F
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The Real Cost

You know getting that diploma will be expensive, but what about just the application process to be eligible for that diploma?

You know getting that diploma will be expensive, but what about just the application process to be eligible for that diploma?

You know getting that diploma will be expensive, but what about just the application process to be eligible for that diploma?

You know getting that diploma will be expensive, but what about just the application process to be eligible for that diploma?

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From long before you even begin college, higher education takes a financial toll. We know that college itself is repulsively expensive, but we don’t pay as much attention to how much just the application process costs. Today, I’m going to explore the real cost of applying to college, beyond the application fee and into overlooked expenses like standardized test registration, college visits, tutoring, and more.

Before deciding where to apply to college, many students choose to visit their potential schools to see where they’d fit in, and while campus tours are free, the travel expenses including airfare, rental cars, lodging, etc. can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Yikes!

Even if you opt to do research and virtual tours in lieu of travelling to colleges, chances are you take standardized tests in preparation for college. It’s true that lots of schools are “test-optional,” so you may not need to sit for the ACT or SAT to get into your dream school, but many scholarships consider test scores, and so do the vast majority of schools. It costs roughly $60 to take the ACT or SAT, another $60 to take SAT subject tests (which many schools recommend), and most students take these tests multiple times, and many pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for ACT/SAT tutoring!

Did you think you were done paying for a Saturday morning 4-hour torture session? Wrong! Part of applying to college includes sending those scores: roughly $13 per test per school. Reasonably affordable, right? Wrong! If you are applying to many schools that don’t consider self-reported scores and/or schools that require all sittings, that seemingly innocent fee can add up to hundreds of dollars!

Did you think the College Board was done feasting upon your bank account? Wrong! As senior Chase Mitchum so aptly puts it, “The college board will stop at nothing to catapult you into financial despair.” The main financial aid application besides FAFSA is the CSS Profile, which is, of course, a lucrative extension of the one and only College Board. Filling out this profile (ironically, something you do if you need financial aid) costs a $25 base fee plus $16 for every school you apply to!

The college board will stop at nothing to catapult you into financial despair.”

— Chase Mitchum

Of course, the most obvious cost in this entire exorbitant process is the actual application fee, which, depending on the school, ranges from nothing to $90. Let’s say you apply to 7 schools (a common number for college-bound students). If you happen to cherry pick schools that don’t have an application fee, like Tulane or Reed, you won’t pay anything! More likely, however, you’ll apply to schools based on where you want to go, and end up paying around $500.

So, what we’ve learned today is that you could apply to college, or you could buy a car. Or you could put a down payment on a small house. Your choice.

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