Colleges With the Highest Application Fees

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When it comes to affording college, every dollar counts. While college tuition will typically be a student’s largest expense, fees can add up — and these begin even before a student is accepted.

While there may be fees for orientation, campus services, labs and other miscellaneous items, a prospective student will typically first need to pay an application fee. This is in addition to the other expenses associated with applying to college, such taking the ACT or SAT, registering for Advanced Placement tests for those students looking to gain college credit and traveling to tour campuses.

Applying to multiple colleges can be expensive, but some students are eligible for an application fee waiver. High school students who qualify for free or reduced lunch will often be eligible for a college application fee waiver, and many colleges urge any student who feels paying the application fee would cause a financial hardship to request a waiver through the Common Application website, for those schools who use it.

[Read: How to Apply to College for Free.]

Among the 936 ranked colleges that provided U.S. News with information about their application fee in an annual survey, the average cost was $44. However, among the 62 schools that charged the highest application fees, including ties, the cost of applying was about $78 on average, and 24 of these 62 schools charged more than that.

Two schools on this list charged an application fee of at least $100: the University of California–San Diego, which tops this list with an application fee of $105, and Arkansas Baptist College, which charged $100.

[See: 11 College Costs Other Than Tuition and Housing.]

Most of the schools that charge the highest application fees are National Universities, which are typically researched-focused institutions that offer a variety of college majors and also provide master’s and doctoral programs.

Some of the schools with the highest application fee are ranked in the top 10 among National Universities. These include Harvard University in Massachusetts, ranked at No. 2; Columbia University in New York at No. 3; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University in Connecticut, both tied at No. 4; Stanford University in California and the University of Chicago, both tied at No. 6; the University of Pennsylvania at No. 8; and the California Institute of Technology and Northwestern University in Illinois, both tied at No. 9.

Seven of the schools on this list are Regional Colleges or Regional Universities, representing the North, South and West regions. The remaining two schools are categorized as National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Below is a list of the 62 colleges that reported the highest application fees in 2020. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School name (state) Application fee U.S. News rank and category
University of California–San Diego $105 35 (tie), National Universities
Arkansas Baptist College $100 70-91, Regional Colleges (South)
Stanford University (CA) $90 6 (tie), National Universities
Columbia University (NY) $85 3, National Universities
Duke University (NC) $85 12, National Universities
North Carolina State University $85 80 (tie), National Universities
Syracuse University (NY) $85 58 (tie), National Universities
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill $85 28 (tie), National Universities
University of Southern California $85 24 (tie), National Universities
Woodbury University (CA) $85 50 (tie), Regional Universities (West)
Boston College $80 35 (tie), National Universities
Boston University $80 42 (tie), National Universities
Brandeis University (MA) $80 42 (tie), National Universities
Cornell University (NY) $80 18, National Universities
Dartmouth College (NH) $80 13, National Universities
George Washington University (DC) $80 66 (tie), National Universities
New York University $80 30 (tie), National Universities
University of Connecticut $80 63 (tie), National Universities
University of Massachusetts–Amherst $80 66 (tie), National Universities
University of North Carolina–Wilmington $80 187 (tie), National Universities
University of Notre Dame (IN) $80 19, National Universities
University of Washington $80 58 (tie), National Universities
Villanova University (PA) $80 53 (tie), National Universities
Yale University (CT) $80 4 (tie), National Universities
American University (DC) $75 76 (tie), National Universities
Barnard College (NY) $75 22 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bentley University (MA) $75 1 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
Brown University (RI) $75 14 (tie), National Universities
California Institute of Technology $75 9 (tie), National Universities
Carnegie Mellon University (PA) $75 26 (tie), National Universities
College of New Jersey $75 5, Regional Universities (North)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (NY) $75 2, Regional Colleges (North)
East Carolina University (NC) $75 217 (tie), National Universities
Emory University (GA) $75 21, National Universities
Georgetown University (DC) $75 23, National Universities
Georgia Institute of Technology $75 35 (tie), National Universities
Harvard University (MA) $75 2, National Universities
Kean University (NJ) $75 132 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
Manhattan College (NY) $75 13 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $75 4 (tie), National Universities
New Jersey Institute of Technology $75 118 (tie), National Universities
Northeastern University (MA) $75 49 (tie), National Universities
Northwestern University (IL) $75 9 (tie), National Universities
Rice University (TX) $75 16 (tie), National Universities
Texas A&M University $75 66 (tie), National Universities
Texas State University $75 298-389, National Universities
Texas Tech University $75 217 (tie), National Universities
Tufts University (MA) $75 30 (tie), National Universities
University of Chicago $75 6 (tie), National Universities
University of Delaware $75 97 (tie), National Universities
University of Houston $75 176 (tie), National Universities
University of Maryland–Baltimore County $75 160 (tie), National Universities
University of Maryland–College Park $75 58 (tie), National Universities
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor $75 24 (tie), National Universities
University of North Carolina Asheville $75 140 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of North Carolina–Charlotte $75 227 (tie), National Universities
University of North Texas $75 249 (tie), National Universities
University of Pennsylvania $75 8, National Universities
University of Texas at Arlington $75 298-389, National Universities
University of Texas at Austin $75 42 (tie), National Universities
Washington University in St. Louis $75 16 (tie), National Universities
William & Mary (VA) $75 39 (tie), National Universities

Don’t see your school listed here? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find application fees, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2020 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The college application fee data above is correct as of Nov. 24, 2020.

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