College Application Process Financially Difficult

Story By Lindsay Garbacik

One of the most prominent responsibilities during the high school years is the process of being accepted to college. This process has included years of trying to appear reputable and accomplished, all for the purpose of impressing colleges. Ways to impress colleges can range from volunteering on the weekends, to school club involvement, to taking the most challenging classes available (which are typically AP), to taking tests like the SAT to prove college readiness and potential. This process would certainly be easier if the College Board, who controls the AP programs and the SAT test, wasn’t trying to profit off of the universally expressed stress and anxiety of college-bound students.

            Upperclassmen are surely familiar with the concept and the price tag which is associated with these already steep college prices. The College Board identifies as a nonprofit organization whose only goal is to help cultivate college preparedness.Their website is, in fact, very useful for researching colleges and scholarship options. The side of the College Board that is less satisfactory is their constant quest to make a profit.

            Most colleges require some form of an entrance exam, such as the SAT or the ACT, when considering the admittance of prospective students. These tests are both available for registration from the College Board. The test costs $60, and this offers the student the ability to send their scores to four colleges without being charged an additional fee. After those four “free sends,” it costs $12 for each additional college to receive these scores. It seems unfair to require students to pay for a test just for the chance of being accepted to college. It seems additionally unfair to potentially limit where students apply to college if they can not afford those additional score sending charges.

            A query along these same lines is where these additional fees go. Scores are sent electronically, so it isn’t like the fee covers postage or any other mailing fees as it may have in years past.

            But perhaps the largest waste of money that the College Board has created is the CSS, short for College Scholarship Service, Financial Aid Profile. This is a service some colleges require in order for this profile to consider students more closely for financial aid. If a college requires it, then it is needed to be considered for admission. Private colleges typically require this. The issue with this service is that it has no competitors, and it is not a cheap process. It costs $25 to set up the profile and another $16 for each college that is to receive this profile. This service is exclusively through the College Board, so once again, there seems to be a profit being made through a non-profit organization. Just like with the SAT score sending, this profile is processed electronically, so no one knows what, exactly, the sending fees provides for the consumer.

            Many students find this whole process to be financially difficult. But regardless of economic status, it is mostly an annoyance. The college application is expensive enough with standardized testing costs and application fees. The additional financial aid profiles can add up to an astronomical amount of money. All of these fees students pay before they know what colleges will even consider accepting them. The College Board has an unfair monopoly on the college application process and is profiting off of student anxiety. 

I teach AP Language and Composition and Journalism at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, PA.

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