Dear QB: As a QuestBridge Finalist, how can I save money during Regular Decision?

DearQBIn case you don’t already know, applying to college is expensive. But don’t be alarmed! There are many ways for QuestBridge Finalists to cut these expenses down when applying to our partner colleges. Below, we talk about each in detail.

1. Application Fees

The application fee at each of our partner colleges is waived for Finalists. This is easily the largest expense in applying to college, and it’s already been taken care of for you!

You should be following the specific instructions from each college to have the fee waived as they all have a slightly different process.

2. Test Score Reports

The majority of colleges (besides test-optional schools – Bowdoin, Trinity, and Wesleyan) require you to submit official test score reports directly from the College Board or ACT. Each college has a different policy on which test scores you need to send. Some colleges allow you to send your most recent scores, while others want to see them all.

If you’re wondering why colleges even require these when they already have you unofficial score report – just remember how much Photoshop has advanced over the past years. This is an official way for them to verify the information you have self-reported.

Even so, there are ways to save money on score reports:

  • Testing Agencies: Both the ACT and SAT offer four free score reports.  For the ACT, you must select which schools to send these to when you take the test. For the SAT, you can select four schools within nine days of taking the test.
  • Your Transcript: Some colleges will accept test scores that are included on your official transcript if paying for the score reports will be a financial burden to you. You will need to check with each college individually to see if they will accept this.*
  • Your Counselor: Similarly, some colleges will accept test scores that are verified by your counselor in some way. You will need to check with each college individually to see if this is an option they will consider.*

3. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

Many private institutions will request this form in order for you to determine your financial aid package. While it’s counterintuitive to pay a fee to receive financial aid, you can think of it as an investment in your education. There are a few fee waiver options as well:

  • Automatic: Up to eight automatic fee waivers will be given to students who are from low-income backgrounds. Eligibility for fee waivers is based on the information you enter in the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, so you will need to completely fill it out before you will find out if you are eligible for any. For more information about these fee waivers, please visit this page.
  • Institutional Form: Several colleges offer applicants to fill out their own institutional form for financial aid in lieu of the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. (Princeton and the University of Chicago are two examples of this.)
  • College-provided: Some colleges are able to provide CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE fee waivers or alternative ways of submitting this information. You will need to check with the financial aid department of each college individually to see if they are able to provide any assistance.*

*If you plan to reach out to colleges individually to inquire about alternatives methods for sending score reports or submitting the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, keep the following in mind:

  • Be punctual. Email the college well in advance of the deadline to submit said materials. If you email at least 2-3 weeks in advance, the college will be better able to assist you and you will have time to pursue alternatives if need be.
  • Be professional. If you are sending an email, begin with “Dear Admissions Office/Financial Aid Office.” Thank them for taking the time to consider your request in your first email, and follow up with a thank-you email, regardless of their answer.
  • Be concise and informative. If emailing, include information such as your QuestBridge ID number, your college ID number (if you have it), and any other relevant information. When making your request, simply state that sending the material(s) will pose a financial challenge to you.

As a QuestBridge Finalist you’re already ahead of the game – you have automatic application fee waivers at 36 of the best colleges in the country! Still, we know that submitting the many additional materials can be difficult and we hope the information above helps you navigate the options available to you.