App version: 0.1.0

Guide to Grad School Application Fees

Guide to Grad School Application Fees
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated December 21, 2022
Share this article:
Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
The average cost of a Master’s degree is $66,340, but the costs of attending graduate school start adding up even before tuition is due. Most schools charge a fee to apply for graduate programs, and that fee ranges from around $50 to $170. Besides application fees, you might also have to pay for exams, such as the GRE or LSAT, travel expenses to visit campuses, and a deposit to hold your place in the class. Read on to learn more about grad school application fees plus tips for affording the cost. 

How Much Are Grad School Applications?

The cost of applying to graduate school varies depending on the school and program you’re interested in. You can expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $170 per application. It’s typically recommended to apply to four to six graduate programs. So, assuming you apply to five programs, you’re looking at application costs ranging from around $250 to $850. 

Examples of Grad School Application Fees

Graduate school application fees can differ not only by school, but also by program at the same school. At Northeastern University, for instance, application fees range from $75 to $100, depending on which program you’re applying to. But if you opt for the university’s College of Professional Studies (CPS), you won’t have to pay an application fee at all. Here are examples of graduate application fees from some of the biggest colleges in the U.S.  
SchoolApplication Fee 
University of Central Florida $31
Texas A&M University $65
Florida International University $30
Ohio State University $60 
Liberty University $50
Recommended: Should You Go to Grad School? Pros and Cons

Graduate Schools With No Application Fees

You can also find some graduate schools that don’t charge application fees. In some cases, fees may be waived for specific programs or for alumni of the school. As mentioned, Northeastern doesn’t charge a fee to apply for its CPS program, though you will have to pay a fee for other programs. And Boston College’s graduate program in physics doesn’t charge graduate application fees if you’re a current Boston College student, Americorps volunteer, active duty military, or participate in another qualifying organization.Here are some other schools that offer free applications for certain graduate programs: 
  • Walden University 
  • Grand Canyon University 
  • American Public University ($100 fee for doctoral applications)
  • St. Xavier University 
  • Loyola University New Orleans Online 

Getting a Grad School Application Fee Waiver

If the graduate application fee presents a barrier for you, you might be able to get a fee waiver. Some schools will waive fees for students with financial needFor instance, Boston College says about grad school application fees, “Current undergraduate applicants, for whom the fee would constitute a serious hardship, may request a waiver.”Reach out to the school’s financial aid office to learn about your options. You may be required  to submit documentation of financial hardship in order to qualify. If you receive a waiver, you’ll be able to apply to the program without having to pay the typical application fee. The financial aid office might also be able to provide a waiver for testing fees if you have to take the GRE or another graduate school exam. Grad school application fees are just the beginning, since the program itself will likely cost significantly more in tuition. Coming up with a financial plan for paying for graduate school at the outset may keep you from scrambling to cover costs. For instance, FAFSA for grad school may be a resource for federal student aid options.

Ways to Pay for Grad School Applications 

Between graduate applications, exams, and campus visits, and moving expenses, the costs of applying to graduate school can be significant. Apart from pursuing fee waivers, here are some potential ways to cover these expenses. 


Considering you might need to think about refinancing graduate school student loans at some point, or MBA student loan refinancing, you probably don’t want to incur debt to pay for applying to grad school. If possible, cover the costs of applications, exams, and campus visits from your savings. 

Part-time Job

If you don’t have enough money on hand to cover the costs, consider online jobs for college students or a side hustle to earn extra income. Driving for a ride-sharing service, tutoring online, or pet sitting could be potential ways to make extra cash to cover the expenses of applying to grad school. 

0% APR Credit Card

If you need immediate funds, you could open a credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. If you have good credit, you might qualify for a card that won't charge interest on your balance for 12 to 20 months. If you pay off your balance before the promotional period ends, you’ll never have to pay interest charges on it. Be careful, however, because if you still carry a balance when the period ends, you could be responsible for hefty interest charges. 

The Takeaway

Graduate school applications typically cost between $50 and $170, depending on the programs and schools you’re applying to. Along with applications, you may also need to pay for exams, travel expenses, and other costs along the way. Some schools offer fee waivers that will cover part or all of your application and exam fees. Reach out to the school’s financial aid office to find out about your options. 

3 Student Loan Tips 

  1. Once the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments ends, going back to making payments may be hard on budgets. One solution is to refinance to a lower interest rate, longer loan term, or both, depending on your situation. (The tradeoff is that you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits such as repayment programs.) Find and compare your student loan refinance options.
  2. One pain-free way to pay down your student loan sooner: send in your tax refund to put against the principal balance. Since it’s money that has already been taken out of your pay, you won’t miss it.
  3. If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school, you may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do Ivy League applications cost?
How do I get a fee waiver for graduate applications?
Why do grad schools charge application fees?

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
Share this article: