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Articles / Applying to College / Who Writes Application Fee Waiver Request for International Student?

Nov. 12, 2008

Who Writes Application Fee Waiver Request for International Student?

Question: In Mongolia, where I come from, there are no guidance counselors in high schools. To request an application fee waiver, from whom should I get the letter or request?

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!

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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