Cut Application fee 2021

By | January 7, 2021
Cut College Admission Fees

Students spent an estimated $470 million on application fees for undergraduate admissions in 2021, based on data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data shows a total of 10,055,109 applications for admission and a weighted average application fee of $46.70.

About half of application fee revenue, $229 million, is spent by students whose applications are rejected. If current trends continue, the total annual spending on application fees is in excess of half a billion dollars.

How to Cut Application Fee Costs

Students can reduce their application fee costs with these tips:

  • Limit the number of applications submitted to reduce application and test score fees
  • Seek application fee waivers if you are eligible
  • Use free application platforms, such as the Cappex Application and Greenlight Scholars Application

Demographic Analysis of Application Fees  

Additional insights from the IPEDS data include:

  • $210 million in fees was from males and $259 million was from females
  • $279 million in fee revenue went to public schools, an average of $434,376 per school
  • $188 million in fee revenue went to private, nonprofit schools, averaging $156,451 per school
  • Fee revenue received by private, for-profit colleges was $2 million
  • Application fees from Pell Grant recipients was $138 million, or 29% of the total
  • Application fees from minority students are about $153 million, or 33% of the total
  • Application fees increased from $178 million in 2001 to $252 million in 2005 to $470 million in 2015

Selective Schools Charge Higher Application Fees

Schools that accept less than 20% of their applicants receive an average of $1.27 million per school, compared with $155,619 per school among those that accept 40% or more of applicants. The average application fees are $62.12 and $30.52, respectively.

This chart shows admissions fee revenue by selectivity, demonstrating that the most selective schools charge twice the application fees of less selective schools.

admissions fee revenue

A similar result occurs with admissions test scores. Higher ACT test scores correlate with higher application fees and higher total application fee revenue.

The average application fee is $74.73 for schools with a 75th percentile ACT test score of 34 or more, compared with $30.62 for a 75th percentile ACT test score of 21 or less.

admissions fee revenue

Top 25 Schools by Application Fee Revenue

This table shows the top 25 schools by total application fee revenue.

InstitutionApplication FeeFee Revenue
University of California-Los Angeles$70$6,488,300
University of California-Berkeley$70$5,522,510
University of California-San Diego$70$5,464,270
University of California-Irvine$70$5,024,250
University of California-Santa Barbara$70$4,937,520
University of California-Davis$70$4,522,140
Boston University$80$4,382,480
University of Southern California$80$4,153,920
New York University$70$4,040,890
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor$75$3,884,775
Stanford University$90$3,824,730
Northeastern University$75$3,789,225
Cornell University$80$3,352,000
San Diego State University$55$3,247,805
California State University-Long Beach$55$3,195,995
University of California-Santa Cruz$70$3,187,240
The University of Texas at Austin$75$3,179,400
Columbia University in the City of New York$85$3,137,435
University of Massachusetts-Amherst$75$3,009,750
Fordham University$70$2,996,770
Harvard University$75$2,798,025
University of Pennsylvania$75$2,795,100
Purdue University-Main Campus$60$2,715,840
University of California-Riverside$70$2,695,770
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus$50$2,673,600

This table shows the top 25 public schools by total application fee revenue.

InstitutionApplication FeeFee Revenue
University of California-Los Angeles$70$6,488,300
University of California-Berkeley$70$5,522,510
University of California-San Diego$70$5,464,270
University of California-Irvine$70$5,024,250
University of California-Santa Barbara$70$4,937,520
University of California-Davis$70$4,522,140
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor$75$3,884,775
San Diego State University$55$3,247,805
California State University-Long Beach$55$3,195,995
University of California-Santa Cruz$70$3,187,240
The University of Texas at Austin$75$3,179,400
University of Massachusetts-Amherst$75$3,009,750
Purdue University-Main Campus$60$2,715,840
University of California-Riverside$70$2,695,770
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus$50$2,673,600
University of Washington-Seattle Campus$70$2,578,800
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo $55$2,575,100
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities$55$2,539,075
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill$80$2,491,440
Texas A&M University-College Station$75$2,490,975
University of Connecticut$70$2,448,460
Ohio State University-Main Campus$60$2,414,400
California State University-Fullerton$55$2,301,255
Rutgers University-New Brunswick$65$2,297,100
University of Virginia-Main Campus$70$2,158,800

Lastly, this table shows the top 25 private schools by total application fee revenue.

InstitutionApplication FeeFee Revenue
Boston University$80$4,382,480
University of Southern California$80$4,153,920
New York University$70$4,040,890
Stanford University$90$3,824,730
Northeastern University$75$3,789,225
Cornell University$80$3,352,000
Columbia University-New York$85$3,137,435
Fordham University$70$2,996,770
Harvard University$75$2,798,025
University of Pennsylvania$75$2,795,100
Duke University$85$2,653,700
Syracuse University$75$2,494,050
Yale University$80$2,418,880
Northwestern University$75$2,409,150
University of Miami$70$2,339,330
Brown University$75$2,279,700
University of Chicago$75$2,255,175
Washington University in St Louis$75$2,194,425
Boston College$70$2,064,020
Hofstra University$70$1,959,370
Liberty University$40$1,957,440
St. John’s University-New York$50$1,804,300
Johns Hopkins University$70$1,783,180
Princeton University$65$1,773,850
Dartmouth College$80$1,640,560