College costs increased dramatically in the last 30 years, but it’s not just the actual education that you get charged for. Colleges and universities are bringing in millions from application fees. The average college application fee was $37.64 according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 survey. At the three most expensive schools it’s more than two times higher than average.
George Mason University in Virginia had the highest undergraduate application fee of any ranked college or university. It costs a cool $100 just for the privilege of having admissions’ personnel peruse your application packet. For the 2010-11 school year, 25,743 people applied for undergraduate enrollment–that’s $2,574,300 in application-fee revenue. Of those applicants, 12,825 or right around 50% were accepted.
Stanford University in California charges the second highest rate at $90. In 2011, 35,761 people (first-time freshmen and transfers) applied for undergraduate admission. That’s $3,218,490 in fees. Of those applicants, 2,495 or about 7% were accepted.
Columbia University in New York rounds out the top three highest-application-fee schools with a fee of $80. For the 2010-11 school year, 26,179 students applied, bringing in $2,094,320 in fees. Of those applicants, 2,400 or 9% were admitted.
If you can’t afford the fee wherever you’re applying, ask the admissions’ department if they’ll waive the fee or if there’s a discount if you apply online. You can often get a break according to U.S. News & World Report.