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.
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