As an African applicant from countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, you’ll probably think of getting your application fee waived. Especially when applying to schools in the North American region like Canada or the USA.
North American schools because they are ones that mostly provide waivers for applicants willing to start either their undergraduate studies or graduate studies. Application fee waiver because the exchange rate in some countries is way too high and everybody wants to keep or cut down their application cost, so they can apply to many schools if possible.
In countries like Ghana, a dollar is times or more than a CEDI. So imagine if an application fee is $70 or $100. For countries like Nigeria it’s extremely worse and the same in other African countries.
And the worst part is, paying that application fee does not give you a guarantee that you’re going to get straight admission and even not to talk about the visa processes. In this case, it’s somehow advisable to try to get an application fee waiver if possible.
This article is going to throw some light on the few ways and procedures that I used to get waivers from universities in the USA.
So in my personal experience, the schools in the USA, it’s not a big deal at all. Most schools do provide waivers and even sometimes include them in their requirements or the program’s official webpage. But mostly these waivers are available to some particular set of people.
In my case, I was also qualified for most of the waivers I came across in my research since I had a pretty normal GPA which was above 3.2 over a 4.0, and got some working experience in the field I was interested in furthering.
Some people won’t get it easy, but there is a way to try your luck out. Try the below tips to see if you get lucky.
How To Get Application Fee Waivers
1. Contact the Admission representative:
Almost every school has an admission rep. They reply to emails from students and new applicants always, and even some of them still do work during vacations. With this option, you’ll have to contact the admission representative through email and ask if a waiver is available.
Here, we suggest you just don’t go straight and ask for a waiver, try to ask one or two questions and then add the waiver question. He or she will let you know if it’s possible to get one. If you get positive feedback you can go on to ask if you’re qualified and if you get positive feedback you’re good to go.
Here, people with say that they might not get a reply. Here, you will have to be a bit tech-savvy or say smart. Check the timezone of the city or state where the school is situated and then schedule your email to be sent there around 9:00 a.m. or 9:50 a.m.
Also, try to have a nice email heading because the heading plays a big role in whether your email is going to be opened or skipped. This is because they do get lots of emails from other applicants around the world. So try your best to have a catching heading, so you can earn a click.
2. Contact a Professor or Senior Lecturer in the department:
This is another option for getting your waiver. This option is a bit competitive and the rate to get your mail ignored is a bit high. This is because professors and lecturers on a normal day don’t deal with admission queries.
They sometimes do, so try your best to the lucky ones they help. So just as said earlier do not just go straight to the point asking for a waiver, but you can let them know how you’re interested in the field they take care of.
Even propose to be interested in them to supervise your work or assist them in their research, teaching, etc., and then add the waiver question. Just as mentioned earlier, you will have to be a bit tech-savvy or, I will say, smart. Check the timezone of the city or state where the school is situated, and then schedule your email to be sent there around 9:00 a.m. or 9:50 a.m.
That time is because most emails are read at the start of every day, and it’s the right time to catch their attention. Also, try to have a nice email heading because the heading plays a big role in whether your email is going to be opened or skipped. This is because they do get lots of emails from other applicants around the world. So try your best to have a catching heading, so you can earn a click.
If you do not get a reply the first time, don’t worry. Send another a week time or let 4–5 days. And should not be another that will be spam-like but rather a gentle reminder.
3. Contact the Program Coordinator:
Almost most schools in the USA and Canada do have program coordinators, some classify them as advisors as well. Mostly you’ll find their emails and phone numbers on the program website. You can take your chances and contact them if you want to.
I contacted a program coordinator about a computer science program I wanted to take but was willing to know more about their path since they have several paths. She replied the next day, and I also added a question about the GRE requirement, and she answered it also that exact day.
You can take this chance and contact them if you want to. But you should contact program coordinators when you do not find any international admission rep email or the program website. You kindly address them with something like that you find a nice question, and then you have the waiver question lastly.
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4. Browse department websites for promotions or free application months or weeks:
During occasions like Easter, and Christmas departments do take free applications for some time. This is mostly popular amongst private universities. Some public universities do the same, but not as much as private ones.
On some occasions, departments get free waivers for applicants for some time. An example is Northeastern University’s application waiver for students in the computer and engineering department. This waiver was for one month. And was available to only the computer and engineering department.
In this case, we suggest you do your research well, and you’ll probably hop on that one school that will give you a free availability with you contact anybody or try to reach some requirements to get this waiver.
Additional tip, according to some advisors, it’s best to write a letter and give detailed explanations on why you need a waiver from the school. This letter will be directed to the admission rep or to the course coordinator, which is similar to what we said earlier.
The only difference here is that you’ll be going kind of formal. But you can still mail all these people and include every reason you think is best for you to get a waiver.