The Unseen Costs of Applying to College

Ivan Barron, Writer

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People usually think of dorms, tuition, and meal plans as the only costs that are associated with going through (or surviving) four years at a decent college or university.

A major problem that is currently flying under the radar in the world of academics, however, is the unbelievable amount of money spent on the admissions process before a student even gets accepted into college. In recent years, growing competition has lead to a frenzy as an estimated 20 million students race for a spot at college.

This increase in competition has only paved the way for more money to be involved in the application process and can end up costing families thousands before tuition.

The insanity of these prices begins with basic college testing fees. Just to take the SAT, a student must pay $52, while the cost of taking the ACT varies from $46 to $62.50.

Late fees for both tests run around $29, so with the average student taking two of these tests, the cost is already over $100 (without late fees). It’s important to note that there is also a cost of sending test scores to a college or university, which ranges from about $12 to $16.

The price involved in testing, however, pales in comparison to the money some families will put forth to try and improve their child’s ability to be successful in the midst of the admissions mania.

For wealthier families in affluent areas such as Palos Verdes, thousands can be poured into putting a student through an SAT or ACT boot camp, a course in which a students try to maximize their score improvement, or paying for ridiculously priced college counselors who advise families on the decisions they make when applying.

In a hypothetical situation, the family of a student from PV trying to get into college would spend over $100 on taking tests and sending in their scores, upwards of $15,000 on a testing boot camp and college counselor, as well as paying for trips to college visits that include pricey flight and hotel costs amounting anywhere from $350 to over $1000.

The fact that the potential cost to get a student though the basic applications process can potentially cost over $15,000 exposes a major flaw in the academic world of the U.S.

Unfortunately as competition grows, these prices will only climb, and unless colleges lower their expectations for what students must go through during the admission process, the problem may worsen over time.   

College costs cause emotional hardship for families involved. (Illustration by Jamie Doo)

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The Unseen Costs of Applying to College