College application costs can add up quickly. How to save

As college costs rise, some students apply to a laundry list of schools to increase their odds of getting into one they can afford. Yet doing so can leave families with another large tab.

“Application fees quickly add up to thousands of dollars if you apply to dozens of colleges,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of

The average college application costs around $50, according to At some colleges you can expect to pay much more — Stanford University’s application fee, for example, is $90.

A third of students apply to six or more colleges, and 15% apply to 10 or more.

Families should decide on a budget for college applications — say, $250, says Kantrowitz. That will not only help keep costs under control but also force students to whittle down their list of schools. “Students should craft their college lists carefully, identifying a small set of colleges where they have a good chance of being admitted,” he added.

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