The Rising Cost Of A College Application

We see so much in the news today about the rising cost of college education and the crushing statistics around student debt.   These sobering figures are giving much cause for consternation around whether the cost of an elite college education is really worth the price of admission.  Just the other day, I shared with a young couple that to put their newborn through a fully funded elite private school education would require them to save almost $1,000 per month!   Although there is much debate about college education, hardly at all does anyone discuss the costs of just applying to get to that college education.   With application fees being another boon for colleges, here are some smart money moves figures you need to plan for within your family budget as your child prepares for the application process.

  • Application Fees– With a school like Harvard that received over 35,000 applications @ $75 a pop, it represented over 2 million in application fees for the school.  While the average application is between $40 to $50 dollars in the United States, many of the more elite schools are in the $75 to $90 range.   If you child applies to 8 schools, this line item will run you $400.
  • Tuition Visits– Your child may have one or two safety schools that they don’t visit at all, but traveling to schools can be a hefty line item in the application process.   Visiting the school may be the tipping point for your child, so you’ll have to consider the costs of transportation, lodging, and food within your budget.  You may add some visits around a normal family vacation, but even 3 hour drives can become expensive with the cost of gas.   You will want to plan $2,000 to $4,000 for these visits within the calendar year.
  • Tutoring/SAT Preparation– Most of you will initially think that you’ll just get your child a book study and they will take care of the rest in the friendly confines of your home.   When you realize the importance that schools place on these scores, it’s highly likely that you’ll spring for one or two SAT/ACT preparation courses or hire a local tutor to get your child prepared.  Plan on another $500 (or more) for this part of the application process.
  • SAT/ACT Tests—These aren’t incredibly expensive, but in today’s application process where many schools use a superscoring process you will want your child to have as many opportunities as possible.   This will run another $200.
  • Stress and Time– PricelessJ  Be prepared that your child will change their mind 56 times which is enough to drive you crazy.   Of course it was never this way when you were growing up, but be prepared to make a heavy investment of your time for a few months during crunch time.   You can’t put a dollar figure on this one!

We always have unexpected expenses that hit us every year, and preparing a family spending plan is an important exercise to go through every year whether you do this in December or January for 2015.   Don’t let the college application process expenses sneak up on your budget.  Use this guideline to plan for 2015 and hopefully you can breathe easier about the journey of getting your child into college.

Written by: Ted Jenkin
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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

Read More About Ted Here

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

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