Higher education applications should be affordable

Katherine Mote

Starting in the middle of junior year, the expectations of college applications and your future begins to hit you. It’s a time of self-reflection and attempting to understand who you’ve become so you can portray that to admissions officers. From studying for the SAT or ACT to finding opportunities to add to your résumé, the entire summer before senior year is full of stress and pressures. However, that isn’t even half of the story. Whether it’s paying thousands of dollars for elite SAT and ACT tutors, or hiring a third-party college guidance counselor to help write essays and letters of recommendation, our community is full of resources, but they come with a hefty cost that only our nation’s highest earning families can afford.

In a world where legislation is being passed to help students achieve their goals without financial burdens and allow equal opportunities regardless of income in the United States, it struggles to touch on some of the most critical points.

Many high school students from a low socioeconomic background are already disincentivized from applying to schools; these fees only make college seem more out of the realm of possibility.

Katherine Mote

While the elitist nature of higher education in this country has always been present, the college application system still falls short in many ways from being attainable to the average American. I used to think that while these extra expenses were costly, they were extra or unnecessary. I came from a place of ignorance in thinking that our community and our bubble simply chose to pay those amounts to get to the highest tier college, when, in fact, sometimes those resources were needed to meet the bare minimum requirements for any institution. However, I’ve learned that even with third-party resources aside, college applications can cost up to $70 to $90 per school.

ESD’s college guidance counselors recommend that each student should apply to anywhere from six to nine colleges, and the average application fee, according to U.S. News & World Report is $45. This results in an average of $315 solely in application fees. However, many of the high-ranked institutions that ESD students often apply to, for example, Yale, charges over $100. There are fee waivers for students from low-income families; however, because ESD doesn’t follow the public school lunch program, the senior would have to fill out all the necessary paperwork without the guarantee that they would receive a fee waiver.

Additionally, standardized test scores, while not required by most schools, are still crucial to most students’ applications. The registration fee alone for the SAT and ACT is $55 and $65 each, respectively. When filling out the application, each time a student sends a school their official score report it includes a $12 fee for the SAT and a $16 fee for the ACT. Coupled with the idea that most students take these tests multiple times, they would have to submit their scores multiple times as well, paying the fee every time and then multiplying that by the number of schools the student is applying to. Many high school students from a low socioeconomic background are already disincentivized from applying to schools; these fees only make college seem more out of the realm of possibility.

The United States has allowed private companies, including the College Board, to profit off of students’ futures and allowed these corporations to feed off some of the most desperate customers: students. With current resources being piled into eliminating student debt and attempting to make higher education more attainable for lower-income families, the college admissions system should be more open to making sure all students regardless of socioeconomic status have the chance to apply. Widely available fee waivers and free score report sending through Government sponsored grants with the already established programs such as Free Application for Federal Student Aid would eliminate this issue that affects most aspiring collegiate students.

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