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Articles / Applying to College / Application Fee Waivers for Single Mom?

Application Fee Waivers for Single Mom?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | June 17, 2010

Question: I'm a single mother with low income & I am looking to return to college to finish my Associates Degree. I left college about 8 years ago, so I have to go through the enrollment process all over again. I wanted to know, are there application fee waivers available to low income, single mothers such as myself?

Most colleges will honor a fee waiver request, if you explain your situation. There are also many colleges that don't demand any application fee at all ... especially for those who apply online.

My suggestion to you is to complete the fee waiver form you'll find here: http://www.nacacnet.org/careerdevelopment/resources/pages/feewaiverfaq.aspx and send it to any college to which you apply. (Click on the "Download the Application for Fee Waiver form.")

You'll see that there is a section on the form for an "authorized" school official who will attest that you are an 11th or 12th grader (ha!) and that you meet the fee-waiver guidelines, which are down below on the form.

Assuming that you do meet those guidelines, is there someone "official" who can vouch for your income (e.g., social worker, clergy member, employer, lawyer, etc.)? If so, then he or she should sign your form and cross out the part that refers to you as a high school student.

If, however, there is no one whom you feel is qualified to sign on your behalf, then don't use this form. Instead, just write a brief note that explains your circumstances and include with it a copy of your latest tax return to verify your income.

As I noted above, most colleges will recognize your waiver ... whether it comes via a signed form or it's your own personal letter.

Also keep in mind that, when you apply to colleges, you will have to report any college classes you took when you were in school before, whether or not you plan to use those credits. Even if you prefer to start with a "clean slate," as some returning students do, colleges will want to know about your past matriculation, and you can get in hot water if you're not fully forthcoming.

Good luck as you travel the bumpy road ahead. You will have some obstacles in your path, but you may also find that you are a more focused, determined, and mature student now (although probably busier, too) than you were the last time around.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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