30 Top Universities in the US with No Application Fee in 2023

This article profiles the 30 best universities in the US with no application fee in 2023.

We’ll cover exceptional schools across the country where you can apply for free as well as why no-fee applications matter.

Applying to college can get expensive, with application fees ranging from $50 to $100 per school.

Thankfully, a number of top universities in the US waive their application fees to make the process more affordable.

Read on to learn about stellar fee-free institutions to consider when applying for college this year.

Why No-Fee College Applications Are Good

Paying $50 or more per application adds up quickly when you’re applying to multiple schools.

Application fees become expensive and cost-prohibitive for some students.

To increase access and affordability, certain universities waive their application fees. This removes cost barriers that prevent some qualified students from applying.

Applying for free allows you to cast a wider net and submit more applications without worries about cost.

Taking advantage of no-fee applications provides financial flexibility in your college search process.

The 30 Best Universities in the US with No Application Fee in 2023

Here are 30 of the top US universities with no application fee in 2023:

1. Harvard

With a prestigious reputation and incredible resources, Harvard is hard to beat.

This Ivy League university in Cambridge, MA offers world-class programs in a storied setting near Boston.

Along with waived application fees, Harvard meets the full financial needs of students through grants, jobs, and loans. Apply by January 1st for fall entry.

2. Yale

Yale University consistently ranks among the top institutions nationally.

Located in New Haven, CT, this Ivy League school provides an exceptional liberal arts education.

Yale College offers 100+ majors along with renowned graduate and professional programs. Applying is free and they practice need-blind admissions.

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3. Princeton

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, NJ.

It’s known for outstanding academics across disciplines like social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

Princeton also offers generous financial aid, waiving application fees, and meeting 100% of demonstrated needs for students. The deadline is January 1st.

4. Columbia

Columbia University in New York City comprises three undergraduate and 13 graduate/professional schools.

Programs excel in fields like business, engineering, journalism, and more.

Applying to Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or General Studies involves no fees. Columbia meets the full financial needs of all admitted students.

5. Brown

Located in Providence, RI, Brown University uniquely allows undergraduates to design their own course of study across 100+ concentrations.

Brown prioritizes making education accessible by offering free applications.

They’re also need-blind in admissions and meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated need.

6. Dartmouth

Dartmouth College sits on a 270-acre campus in Hanover, NH surrounded by natural beauty.

Undergraduates pursue 40+ majors across the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Dartmouth makes applying accessible by waiving fees. They also practice need-blind admissions and meet 100% of established financial needs for students.

7. Cornell

Cornell University spans 746 acres in Ithaca, NY with stunning gorges and waterfalls.

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It’s the only Ivy League university with top-ranked programs across many fields including engineering, business, and agriculture.

Undergraduates choose from 4,000+ courses across 80 majors tuition-free.

Cornell has a need-blind, no-loan financial aid policy and waives application fees.

8. Rice

Located in Houston, TX, Rice University boasts a 300-acre campus near museums and performing arts.

Undergraduates benefit from a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and academics focused on collaboration.

Rice meets 100% of demonstrated financial needs and offers free applications. Submit yours by January 1st for fall admission.

9. Vanderbilt 

Vanderbilt University resides on a stunning 333-acre campus in Nashville, TN.

Undergraduates earn degrees at the highly-ranked College of Arts & Sciences or School of Engineering.

Vanderbilt practices need-blind admissions and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need. Applying is free – submit by January 1st.

10. Duke

Duke University spans nearly 9,000 acres across three campuses in Durham, NC.

The highly ranked undergraduate experience focuses on critical thinking and cross-discipline collaboration.

Duke offers need-blind admissions and promises to meet 100% of accepted students’ demonstrated need. Applying is free – submit by January 2nd.

11. Caltech

The California Institute of Technology sits on 124 acres near Pasadena.

It’s a top science and engineering school providing rigorous academics with a 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Caltech practices need-blind admissions and offers extremely generous financial aid. Applications are fee-free – submit by January 3rd.

12. MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology boasts a storied history of academic excellence in Boston.

MIT pioneers innovative education and research in science, technology, and other fields.

MIT meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. They encourage applying by waiving fees. Submit your free app by January 1st.

13. Berea College

Berea College in Berea, KY charges no tuition thanks to their no-tuition promise and generous financial aid.

This Christian school focuses on diversity, equity, sustainability, and more.

Berea admissions are need-blind and they provide free room and board. Applying is free – submit your materials by November 1st.

14. Curtis Institute of Music

Located in Philadelphia, PA, the Curtis Institute of Music offers immersive conservatory training entirely free of cost for all admitted students.

The exceptionally selective school accepts just enough students to fill the orchestra and opera program each year. Apply by December 1st without any fees.

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15. College of the Ozarks

At College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO, students work instead of paying tuition.

Their tuition-free education incorporates learning through serving the community, farming, workshops, and more.

Admissions are need-based. Applications are free and due by September 1st. College of the Ozarks meets 100% of demonstrated financial need.

16. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Part of the State University of New York system, this specialized school in Syracuse, NY offers 23 undergraduate majors focused on sustainability, ecology, and more.

Applying is free and enrollment is nearly 2,000 students. Submit materials by February 1st for fall entry.

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17. Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College delivers a liberal arts education with real-world experience in Pippa Passes, KY. Students graduate debt-free thanks to their tuition-free work program.

Applications are due by June 1st with no fees required. Alice Lloyd meets 100% of students’ demonstrated financial needs.

18. University of North Carolina School of the Arts

This public arts conservatory in Winston-Salem, NC immerses students in their choice of five arts majors. Undergraduate tuition runs just over $5k for in-state students.

Apply for free by January 15th. Nearly 45% of students receive need-based aid and graduate debt-free.

19. Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier is a private HBCU in New Orleans offering comprehensive liberal arts, science, and pre-professional programs. Undergraduate enrollment tops 2,000 students.

Applying is free and materials are due by February 1st. Xavier meets 100% of demonstrated financial need.

20. University of California, Irvine

UC Irvine provides vibrant academic programs just miles from California beaches. Undergraduates can pursue 85 majors across five schools and divisions.

With free applications and reasonable tuition, UC Irvine is an affordable option. Submit by November 30th for fall entry.

21. University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA is a prestigious public research university located in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood. Nearly 40,000 students are enrolled across five academic divisions.

It costs nothing to apply and UCLA offers generous financial assistance. Submit your application by November 30th.

22. University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley is a top public university located north of San Francisco. It’s known for academic excellence, pioneering research, and liberal campus activism.

Applying is free and UC Berkeley meets the full financial needs of California residents earning under $80k. Apply by November 30th.

23. University of Michigan

A top public research institution, UMich accepts just 23% of applicants. The Ann Arbor campus provides outstanding academics across 20 schools and colleges.

Submit free applications by February 1st. UMich meets 100% of in-state students’ demonstrated financial need.

24. University of Virginia

UVA is a top-ranked public university with historic grounds founded by Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, VA.

They offer nearly 200 majors across arts & sciences, engineering, business, and more.

Applications are fee-free and UVA meets 100% of the needs of all students. Apply by January 1st for fall entry.

25. William & Mary

Located in Williamsburg, VA, William & Mary is the second oldest university in the nation.

Undergraduates can join 85+ organizations and take courses at partner schools like York.

Applying is free and aid helps make W&M affordable. Submit materials by January 1st.

26. Middlebury College

This private liberal arts college in rural Vermont features outstanding humanities, sciences, and language programs. Nearly all students live on the stunning campus.

Middlebury is need-blind and meets the full demonstrated needs of students. Applications are free – submit by January 1st.

27. Washington and Lee University

W&L is a private liberal arts college located in historic Lexington, VA.

With 1,800 students, they boast a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and rigorous academics.

W&L meets 100% of enrolled students’ demonstrated need. Applications are free – submit by January 1st.

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28. Deep Springs College

Deep Springs is a highly selective two-year liberal arts college in California’s High Desert focused on self-governance and labor. Full scholarships are provided for all admitted students.

Applying is free – materials are due by January 1st. The program accepts around 15 students annually.

29. Curtis Institute of Music

This prestigious conservatory in Philadelphia, PA provides performance-based music education free of cost to all admitted students.

The highly competitive school only accepts enough pupils to fill ensembles.

Applications are free and due December 1st. Those accepted receive immersive training, coaching, and experiences.

30. St. John’s College

With campuses in Annapolis, MD, and Santa Fe, NM, St. John’s College is known for its Great Books curriculum exploring philosophical and mathematical texts.

St. John’s practices need-blind admission and meets 100% of enrolled students’ demonstrated financial need, including transfer students. Apply for free by January 15th.

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Conclusion

Applying to college for free allows qualified students to cast a wider net without financial barriers, especially when applying to multiple schools.

Thankfully, dozens of top universities in America waive their application fees.

The 30 fee-free schools profiled offer exceptional academics, generous financial aid opportunities, and first-rate student experiences.

When applying this year, be sure to take advantage of waived fees at colleges on your list. This simple step can expand your options and save money.

With no application cost at schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Rice, Duke, and many other standout institutions, every student can set their sights high.

Don’t let application fees limit your college aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions related to applying to universities with no application fees:

Do Colleges Waive Application Fees for Financial Reasons?

Many schools waive application fees for low-income applicants, students receiving fee waivers from the College Board or counselors, families on public assistance, and those facing financial hardship. Email admissions to explain your situation.

Are there other costs besides the application fee?

Yes, most schools charge fees for submitting transcripts or test scores. Some require enrollment deposits after acceptance or charge for housing deposits and orientation. These vary by college.

Is It Better to Apply Early if the College Is Need-Blind?

Applying early does not typically impact need-based financial aid offers from need-blind colleges.

However, applying via early decision programs can show extra interest. Know that you must attend if accepted early.

Can International Students Get Application Fee Waivers?

Unfortunately, most U.S. colleges don’t offer fee waivers for international applicants.

But if finances are a major hurdle, it’s worth emailing admissions offices to see if they’ll consider waiving fees.

If I’m Admitted With No App Fees, Do I Pay Fees Later?

No, colleges that waive application fees don’t require repaying those fees later if you’re admitted.

But you will pay tuition, room/board, supplies, and any other standard college costs.

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