Opinion: College application fees: A debt sentence

Forty-one dollars can buy a cute outfit for a student’s first day at college. It can pay for two pizzas, including tax. Ninety dollars can pay for a student’s groceries for their first week as an independent adult. But paying ninety dollars for a college to take an application into consideration isn’t as satisfying as paying for life’s necessities.

It is almost time for anxious seniors to receive acceptance letters from the colleges they applied to in the fall. While these soon-to-be college freshmen have already paid application fees, many juniors will be going through the same ordeal next fall. This is why it is necessary to question the high cost of sending applications to colleges.

Students have to worry about tuition and possible costs of going to college, such as textbooks, airfare, SATs, etc. They must also pay application fees to most of the colleges they apply to. According to a post on “US News and World Report” dated Sept. 16, 2014, Stanford University has the highest application fee in the US at $90, while the average fee is $41. Forty-one dollars may seem like a small amount, but many students apply to several more than just one school. Applying to multiple schools is a very common choice made by seniors in order to have several options in the spring about which college they want to go to.

Stephanie Walsh, Seabury Hall’s college counselor, said that last year’s class applied to an average of eight schools per student. Although some applied to more, let’s say that each school’s application fee was fifty dollars. That is $400 for college application fees alone. Four hundred dollars could pay for a large portion of a student’s first month of rent.

People wonder why colleges have these initial costs. Colleges say they want to make sure that a student is serious about getting into the college. Application fees reduce the amount of applications from students who do not plan on going to the school but are looking for the pride that generally comes with an acceptance letter.

There should be other ways that colleges can ensure that students are being serious about applying besides these costly applications. Putting an application together and sending it in takes hard work and money. Students should not have to worry about additional fees when most are already stressing about tuition, rent, food, etc.

Charging an application fee is not fair to those kids whose parents cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars for their child to have choices. By charging application fees, colleges are limiting students’ options because a student might not have the money to apply to several different places.

Colleges can add things to the application that do not require money that can ensure sincerity. These additions could be more time-consuming, which would get rid of false and lazy applicants. Questions could be added that are more college-specific, which could prove a student’s enthusiasm to get into the college.

Many colleges only plan on accepting a small amount of students that apply to their school. Why should they get to charge already financially-stressed students that they plan on declining anyway?

According to “The Stanford Daily,” Stanford received 42,167 applications in 2014 and admitted 2,138. That makes their acceptance rate 5.07 percent. At $90 per application, the college is making almost $3.8 million even though they are planning to let down 95 percent of those applicants. While the college’s administration did have to go through thousands of applications, $3.8 million is a high price for two months’ work.

College administrators have to spend time reading the countless applications, and they should get paid, but at what cost to a student? Some colleges do not charge students to send in applications. If other colleges are making the application process free, then it is possible for all colleges to do the same.

As a freshman in high school, I am considering starting a fund just for college application fees in case colleges do not stop burdening students in the next three years. Students who want to apply to several colleges should not have to pay hundreds of dollars. Alternatives to ensuring that students are serious about applying to a college can be utilized in place of harsh fees.