The value of a college degree is undisputed. A 2010 report from the College Board estimates that, among full-time workers, high school graduates earned a median annual income of $33,800; workers with an associate’s degree, $42,000; and, workers with a bachelor’s degree, $55,700.

Chapter 3 | Fee Waivers

The information included on this webpage was excerpted from Chapter 3 of College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers, available in its entirety at

exam thought bubbleChapter 3, Part 3 | College Entrance Exam Fee Waivers
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College Entrance Exams: The Basics

Colleges use many criteria, including high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores, to make an admissions decision. The two most common college entrance exams are the American College Test (ACT) and the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Many community colleges do not require applicants to provide ACT or SAT scores, but often do require students to take a placement test. Some community colleges accept ACT and/or SAT scores for placement purposes. Because of this, students planning to attend community college may wish to speak with the college about their entrance requirements before making a decision about whether to take either or both college entrance exams. Students thinking of attending a four-year college or university should plan to take at least one standardized college entrance exam.

College Entrance Exam Fees and Reductions

As of 2014, college entrance exam fees are as follows:

  • ACT (No Writing): $36.50
  • ACT Plus Writing: $52.50
  • SAT (General): $51
  • SAT Subject Tests: $24.50, basic subject test fee (per registration) | +$24, language with listening test (per test) | +13, all other subject tests (per test)

The ACT fee waiver covers basic registration fees, including sending the student’s test score to up to four college choices. A student can use the waiver to take the ACT up to two times. The SAT fee waiver covers all registration fees for a single test date, including the four free score sends included with registration and additional four free score sends included with the waiver. A student can use up to two waivers for the SAT and up to two waivers for the SAT Subject Tests (up to three subject tests per test date).

Eligibility Criteria

As of 2014, the ACT and SAT fee waiver programs use the same eligibility criteria. To be eligible, a student must:

  • be enrolled in high school in the 11th or 12th grade (ACT and SAT) or in grades 9-12 (SAT Subject Tests);
  • be a U.S. citizen (if testing abroad) or be testing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or a U.S. territory; and
  • meet one or more of the following indicators of economic need:
    • Student is participating in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program.
    • Annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
    • Student is enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
    • Family receives public assistance.
    • Student lives in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or is homeless.
    • Student is a ward of the state or is an orphan.

As mentioned previously, under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, children and youth experiencing homelessness are categorically eligible to receive free school meals. As such, homeless students, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, meet the eligibility criteria for the ACT and SAT fee waiver programs.

Requesting a College Entrance Exam Fee Waiver

The ACT and SAT fee waiver programs are administered by high school counselors. Students should obtain the fee waiver form from their high school counselor and use the number or code on the form to register for the exam. Students who wish to receive a fee waiver should communicate the need for assistance to their high school counselor as soon as the need is known.

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web series navigationUp Next: Part 4 | College Application Fee Waivers

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NAEHCY 2018 Conference
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The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
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