Nov. 12, 2008
As with most things in the colleges-admissions world, there are no easy answers when it comes to international applicants and fee waivers. Perhaps ironically, some colleges automatically grant fee waivers to every international applicant, while other schools grant no fee waivers at all to internationals. Sometimes the fee is waived just for online applications; occasionally a waiver can only be used with a paper application! Confusing, isn't it?
So first, you need to read the International Student instructions carefully for each college on your list to see what the waiver policy is. If the school does offer waivers to international students and you have no school counselor, no problem. Ideally, you will find a different school official (head of school, head teacher, etc.) who will write a brief note attesting to your family's approximate annual income (converted into US dollars) and the hardship that an application fee will present. Alternatively, if no school administrator is appropriate, another adult who has inside knowledge of your family's circumstances in some sort of "official" capacity (member of the clergy, social worker, etc.) could write the waiver request as well.
As I'm sure you're already aware, getting any sort of financial aid from U.S. colleges and universities can be a discouraging process. Standards are set extremely high for internationals seeking aid, so be sure that your college list includes mostly those places where your grades and standardized test scores make you a far stronger candidate than the typical admitted domestic applicant. Good luck!
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