For parents like Jarret McClendon whose children are applying to colleges, having application fees waived for a week can mean the lifting of a major financial burden.
McClendon, an engineer in Durham, has been helping his daughter, Malaysia Anderson, and her friends fill out their college applications. With an average fee of $50, applying for college can be difficult for some seniors and their families, so every time a fee is waived, it helps.
Five campuses within the University of North Carolina system – North Carolina A&T University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina Central University, Fayetteville State University and Elizabeth City State University – waived their application fees during College Application Week from Nov. 2-6, allowing potential future students in the state the opportunity to freely submit their applications.
“This is a great opportunity to reach out to people like my daughter and her friends,” McClendon said. “A lot of them are first-generation college kids. For a lot of kids, it might be their only chance to apply. A lot of them are already working, trying to help their parents out.”
Rochelle Bostic, a guidance counselor at East Montgomery High School in Biscoe, said the school does a lot of planning around application week, working with its seniors to get their applications prepared beforehand so that they can be sent in during the week.
“Ever since the schools have been giving the fee waivers, there’s been a dramatic jump in applications,” she said. “Normally, it would cost $250 or more to apply to those five schools.”
Of the 140 seniors in her school, Bostic said about 50 will apply to four-year colleges, and those students will have a lot more options by applying to a larger number of schools.
“We always make a goal of having them complete at least a couple of applications before that week,” she said.
Before the fee waivers were offered, schools such as East Montgomery had to rely on alumni associations and other organizations to offset the price of applications fees, and even then, it would only benefit a handful of students. Since the application fees waivers became an annual offering, applications to those schools have risen by 75 percent or more, she said.
“We’re in a rural, impoverished area,” she said. “That money (saved) makes a world of difference.”
Nicole Gibbs, director of undergraduate admissions at North Carolina Central University, said the school receives a “huge amount of activity” during that week and works hard to inform prospective students that the fee waiver is available.
“For us, the student will offer other documentation, such as report cards, and then wait until that particular week to send in the application,” she said. “They really appreciate the opportunity to submit it during that week.”
Gibbs said the university receives about 16,000 applications from high school seniors, and accepts about 60 percent of them.
Yolanda Keith, program director for the Carolina College Advising Corps, said her group works with prospective college students from across North Carolina to do everything from helping students fill out applications to learning more about financial aid. College Application Week is a no-risk opportunity to apply to many schools without a financial burden.
“It helps build a college-going culture,” she said. “It allows us to do outreach with students who may not otherwise apply. It’s changed things, in that it expands and exposes them to more colleges. Applications usually cost $25 to $70 each, so having the fees waived is huge. The application itself can be daunting and confusing, especially for first-generation students, so we help them with the process.”
Written by Phillip Ramati
Photos contributed by Carolina Advising Corp
Homepage image from NC State Flickr.
Published November 2, 2015