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How to Apply to College For Free

College applications can get pricey, but many universities offer a free way to apply. Find out if there’s a way you can save costs, too.

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1. If you’re Web-savvy: Students, like Sossi, who apply online can score free application submissions at many colleges. In addition to Washington and Jefferson College, the numerous institutions that waive application fees for online applicants include Upper Iowa UniversityMillikin UniversityJuniata CollegeKettering UniversityYork College of PennsylvaniaDrake University,Smith CollegeBarry University, and Mercyhurst College.

2. If you have a connection: At some schools, being a relative or friend of a graduate can get you a free application. At Western New England University in Massachusetts, for instance, students can apply for free if they have a parent or grandparent who attended or if they’re are able to secure a letter of recommendation from another grad.

3. If you take a road trip: Sometimes, just showing up can mean the difference between applying for free or getting stuck with a charge. At Alfred University, for example, school officials not only want to encourage face-to-face interaction, they want to show their appreciation to families who make the trek to upstate New York, says Cory Unis, the college’s director of admissions.

4. If you have financial need: Don’t let tight finances keep you from your college dreams. Of the 1,800 colleges U.S. News surveyed in 2012, 1,300 reported that they will waive the application fee for students who demonstrate financial need, including Dartmouth CollegeJohns Hopkins University, and the University of Colorado–Boulder.

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