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Top Colleges With Free Applications

Written by Cait Williams

Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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Posted: February 22nd, 2024

As you might know by now, college application fees are certainly not cheap. When you have to pay upwards of four or five application fees, that money adds up! So, let’s dive right in and look at some colleges that do not charge to apply!

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54 colleges
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

6% acceptance rate
7,558 undergraduate students
96% graduation rate
$22,690 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Colby College

Waterville, ME • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Waterville, ME

Private, Non-Profit, Town

9% acceptance rate
2,262 undergraduate students
87% graduation rate
$17,739 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb, Need-Blind

Wellesley, MA

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb, Need-Blind

16% acceptance rate
2,383 undergraduate students
92% graduation rate
$21,561 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Dickinson College

Carlisle, PA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Carlisle, PA

Private, Non-Profit, City

48% acceptance rate
2,138 undergraduate students
82% graduation rate
$15,554 average per year after aid
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Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, MA • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

South Hadley, MA

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

52% acceptance rate
2,214 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$16,731 average per year after aid
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St Olaf College

Northfield, MN • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Northfield, MN

Private, Non-Profit, Town

47% acceptance rate
2,955 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$22,278 average per year after aid
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Trinity University

San Antonio, TX • Private, Non-Profit, City

San Antonio, TX

Private, Non-Profit, City

34% acceptance rate
2,509 undergraduate students
80% graduation rate
$18,637 average per year after aid
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Wabash College

Crawfordsville, IN • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Crawfordsville, IN

Private, Non-Profit, Town

62% acceptance rate
840 undergraduate students
83% graduation rate
$19,772 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College

Carleton College

Northfield, MN • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Northfield, MN

Private, Non-Profit, Town

18% acceptance rate
2,008 undergraduate students
91% graduation rate
$31,800 average per year after aid
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Wheaton College

Wheaton, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Wheaton, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

86% acceptance rate
2,301 undergraduate students
88% graduation rate
$25,287 average per year after aid
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Rhodes College

Memphis, TN • Private, Non-Profit, City

Memphis, TN

Private, Non-Profit, City

57% acceptance rate
1,983 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$27,647 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Rolla, MO • Public, Town

Rolla, MO

Public, Town

85% acceptance rate
5,668 undergraduate students
63% graduation rate
$12,682 average per year after aid
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Michigan Technological University

Houghton, MI • Public, Town

Houghton, MI

Public, Town

86% acceptance rate
5,701 undergraduate students
69% graduation rate
$15,864 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA • Private, Non-Profit, City

Worcester, MA

Private, Non-Profit, City

60% acceptance rate
5,134 undergraduate students
87% graduation rate
$45,005 average per year after aid
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Smith College

Northampton, MA • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Northampton, MA

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

30% acceptance rate
2,566 undergraduate students
91% graduation rate
$29,814 average per year after aid
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Colorado College

Colorado Springs, CO • Private, Non-Profit, City

Colorado Springs, CO

Private, Non-Profit, City

14% acceptance rate
2,235 undergraduate students
86% graduation rate
$26,705 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College

Grinnell College

Grinnell, IA • Private, Non-Profit, Town, Need-Blind

Grinnell, IA

Private, Non-Profit, Town, Need-Blind

11% acceptance rate
1,713 undergraduate students
87% graduation rate
$28,610 average per year after aid
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University of Dayton

Dayton, OH • Private, Non-Profit, City

Dayton, OH

Private, Non-Profit, City

81% acceptance rate
8,555 undergraduate students
80% graduation rate
$27,407 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College: Affordability

Hendrix College

Conway, AR • Private, Non-Profit, City

Conway, AR

Private, Non-Profit, City

68% acceptance rate
1,103 undergraduate students
73% graduation rate
$10,299 average per year after aid
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Saint Louis University

Saint Louis, MO • Private, Non-Profit, City

Saint Louis, MO

Private, Non-Profit, City

70% acceptance rate
7,277 undergraduate students
80% graduation rate
$27,544 average per year after aid
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About the Data

We sort colleges on our lists according to their Scholarships360 Top Colleges Index Score. This score is calculated using up-to-date information taken directly from the College Scorecard. Additional information is sourced from the colleges themselves, as well as other publicly available information. If you see an error, feel free to contact us.

Military academies

Before we close, it’s worth noting that all United States military academies (including the Merchant Marine Academy above) also have free applications. While the application process for these schools can be long and rigorous, you’ll likely not find many other schools that can offer the quality of education they do and a free application. If you haven’t explored them as options, take a look and see for yourself whether one might be the right choice for you!

Average cost of applying to college

If an average student applies to between five and eight colleges, those fees can add up. With the average cost of each application landing between $50-$90, this means that students can end up spending well over $300 to $500 on applications alone. Considering that students may or may not be accepted into all those schools, and even if they are, they can only attend one, the price tag above can be a tough pill to swallow. So, applying to even just one or two schools with free applications can be a big help!

Fee waivers

If there is a college you really want to attend, but you cannot afford to pay their application fee, check with the school to see if there are any fee waivers that you may be eligible for. Fee waivers may cover the whole or partial cost of the application.

Next Steps

Next Steps

  • Paying college application fees can get expensive, which means that applying to some schools with zero application fees might be a great way to mitigate some costs 
  • You shouldn’t just apply to a school because they have no application fee, however, it’s worth looking into what schools with your major do offer free applications
  • Our list above is by far not exhaustive, but it is a start to help you explore what colleges might be out there
  • If the school you really want to apply to doesn’t have a free application, contact them to see if they have any fee waivers that you may be eligible to use
Next Steps

Frequently asked questions about colleges with free applications 

What does it mean when colleges send you free applications?

Fee waivers allow students to apply to the colleges who send them without paying an application fee. Usually, these schools want to make sure certain students apply without worrying about fees.

Is it better to apply through the Common App or directly?

As long as the school you are applying to accepts the Common App, it should not matter much which one you apply through. Not all schools accept the Common App, so make sure that the schools you’re applying to accept it before you move forward with anything. You can usually check this by visiting the colleges website or logging on to the Common App website and searching your school.

Does the Common App let you apply to colleges for free?

The actual platform is free for students to use. While some colleges do charge an application fee on the Common App, others do not.

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