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Many North Carolina colleges will waive college application fees Oct. 16-20

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Gov. Roy Cooper officially proclaimed October as Countdown to College month on Oct. 3, encouraging students to research higher education and career opportunities and submit college applications.

Cooper urged students and families to use to learn about college and career opportunities in the state “to prepare them to succeed in today’s global economy and support North Carolina’s growing workforce needs.”

The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) will continue offering free resources for students and their families throughout the month. And next week, from Oct. 16-20, many colleges and universities in the state will waive their application fees.

“This campaign empowers tens of thousands of students each year in communities across the state to make progress toward the education and career goals they want to achieve,” said Andrea Poole, executive director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA). “Countdown to College has been part of our work for decades, and we are happy to help students pursue opportunities aligned with their goals.”

More than 40 North Carolina colleges will waive their application fees next week for students who apply through All 58 community colleges will also waive their application fees. You can view the full list of participating colleges on CFNC’s website.

Some of the participating colleges will only waive fees for certain applicants, such as N.C. residents. Other schools not on the list may accept other special fee waivers, CFNC’s website says.

“This statewide opportunity eliminates the cost of college applications as a barrier to enrollment for N.C. high school seniors preparing to enter an increasingly competitive job market. Research from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University shows that over 95% of all jobs created nationally since 2010 have gone to workers with at least some college education, emphasizing the value degree and non-degree certificate programs deliver for students.

CFNC Release

Nationally, the average college application fee was $45 in 2022, based on a survey by U.S. News. Some colleges charge upward of $100. For reference, UNC-Chapel Hill’s application fee is $85.

“If you can’t pay the fee right now, please talk with your school counselor about asking us to waive it,” UNC’s application FAQ page says. “The bottom line: whether you apply with a fee or a waiver, we’ll be grateful to receive your application, and we’ll consider you with care, appreciation, and respect.”

Here are some other ways you can request application fee waivers at any college, at any time:

  • If you receive a fee waiver for your ACT and SAT, you can also request college application fee waivers.
  • Talk with your high school guidance counselor. They probably have the correct waiver form you need, and their signature will improve your chances of having the fee waived.
  • International students don’t have to pay an application fee for most universities.
  • Request a National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Fee Waiver, which the majority of schools accept. If you meet the NACAC requirements, you’ll be able to apply for up to four schools without paying the application fee.

In addition to providing resources on applications, CFNC also has information on residency and FAFSA. The “new” FAFSA form, for the 2024–25 school year, is scheduled to release in December, per the Federal Student Aid website.

You can find more information from CFNC at their website.

Hannah Vinueza McClellan

Hannah McClellan is EducationNC’s senior reporter and covers education news and policy, and faith.