You can apply to as many colleges as you want, but five to eight schools are recommended, according to The College Board, the nonprofit higher education body that administers the SAT.
But your registration fee will add up to the more schools you have on your list.
When evaluating schools, look for a mix of safety, reach, and good shape colleges from over 4,500 two- and four-year schools. Once you have your shortlist, weigh the potential costs of the app against all of your choices. Some of the factors to consider include:
Financial aid requests.
Optional expenses such as test preparation and university visits.
Fees for required tests
Many colleges will require you to submit standardized test results from the SAT or ACT. You can choose to take the tests multiple times to improve your score, but you will pay the test fee whenever you schedule one.
Waivers are available for SAT and ACT test fees. Exemptions are distributed by high school guidance counselors as needed.
The SAT is priced at $ 47.50. If you take the SAT with essay, which some schools require, you will pay $ 64.50. You can send scores to up to four schools, but if you want other schools to receive your scores, you’ll pay $ 12 per report.
It will cost you $ 50.50 to register for the ACT test. To take the test along with the essay, you will pay $ 67. Your scores will be sent to four schools. Additional schools will cost $ 13 each.
Again, there is no limit to the number of colleges you can apply to, but each will likely require an application fee. Average fees are $ 50, but they can go up to $ 90 at some elite colleges, according to US News & World Report, which ranks the colleges annually.
However, schools will waive the fee if you meet the financial need criteria. You can also consider colleges that don’t charge an application fee.
Financial aid requests
The free federal student aid app, or FAFSA, has “free” in the name as it will cost nothing to submit. This is the key to accessing federal student aid, including federal grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans. Select up to 10 schools to receive FAFSA results you submit.
Some schools on your list may require the CSS Profile for access to public and institutional assistance. Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS profile costs $ 25 to submit to a school. To send scores to additional colleges, it will cost $ 16 per school. But you may be eligible for a Waiver of CSS profile fees that would cover those expenses.
How it all adds up
If you have a set budget for applying to school, ask yourself the following question: Is every school on my list the one I want – and can afford – to attend? Here are three examples of how app expenses can add up.
Scenario 1: Apply to five schools
Suppose you plan to apply to five colleges that have an application fee of $ 50. You plan to take the SAT and ACT tests once. Two of the colleges want you to submit the CSS profile. Here’s how much you can expect to pay:
Application fees = ($ 50 x 5)
CSS profile for two schools = $ 25 + $ 16
Scenario 2: Apply to eight schools
You plan to apply to eight colleges. You only want to take the SAT with the test once. Three of the colleges require the CSS profile. Seven of the schools have a $ 50 registration fee, but you also apply to a school with a $ 75 fee. Here’s how much you can expect to pay.
SAT test with trial = $ 64.50
Application fees = ($ 50 x 7) + $ 75
CSS profile for three schools = $ 25 + $ 16 + $ 16
Scenario 3: Obtain fee waivers for applications in four schools
Suppose you have a fee waiver for testing and for four requests that you want to submit. If none of these schools need the CSS profile to get financial aid, you couldn’t pay anything to apply for the college.
SAT test with test = waived
Application fees = canceled
Associated costs that increase your total
Campus visits. Depending on how far you have to travel to visit schools, travel costs, including food and accommodation, will increase rapidly. You may not need to visit every school on your list, but some colleges will require interviews or in-person auditions as part of the admissions process.
SAT / ACT preparation courses and materials. You may want to take a test preparation course or purchase study guides to help you get a higher score on an exam. The College Board’s newest official SAT study guide is $ 28.99 and its preparation course is $ 38.98. The official ACT prep guide costs $ 32.95 and the official online ACT prep course is $ 39.95.
College admissions advice. Turning to professional college admissions experts can be expensive. You can pay anywhere from hundreds of hours for counseling to several thousand for training camps and private lessons.