Your Road Map to Graduate School



Your Road Map to Graduate School

A series to guide you through the long, arduous process of applying to graduate school programs.

How to Save Money While Applying to Graduate School

One of the things that surprised me the most while I was applying to graduate school was how expensive it was and how extra costs always seemed to pop up when I thought I was finished paying for things! Despite the costs, it is important to remember that applying to graduate is an investment in your future so the price is definitely worth it. However, we are still college students and many of us don’t have unlimited funds. I am always on the hunt for a good bargain, sale, or coupon, and graduate school applications were no exception. Below, I am sharing some of my tips to help save you money on your applications.

  1. Put together a list of estimated costs so you have a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly. I have included an example of what items to keep in mind and their costs.
Item Cost
GRE $205
GRE Subject Test $150
Official Transcripts $8 (per transcript)
GRE Scores $27 (per additional score report)
Application Fee $50-150 (per school)


  1. When deciding which schools to apply to, be selective. Applying to dozens of schools is not the most cost-effective thing to do and that may not increase your chance of getting into one. Stick to a handful of schools where you could really see yourself living and working and focus on those.
  2. Send score reports strategically. If a school does not require an official score report (or the GRE subject test), don’t send it! If they don’t require it specifically, chances are they won’t even look at it even if you do send it, so save yourself the money and time. This also applies to transcripts. If they don’t require an official copy, just send an unofficial one that you can download off of Enterprise.
  3. Apply for fee waivers. Applying for a fee waiver is a guaranteed way to save a large chunk of money. When I was applying, out of 6 schools I applied to, I only paid 2 application fees! And even if you aren’t sure if you qualify, it doesn’t hurt to apply or reach out to the admission department to find out. The worst they can tell you is no. But be aware, each school has different criteria and require different documents. You may end up in the financial aid office, searching for last years’ tax return, or even tax information from your parents. Keeping this in mind, don’t leave applying for waivers until the deadline.
  4. Look for programs that might offer scholarships for application fees or GRE registration costs. In the spring of my junior year, I found a program called Going Beyond Undergrad that was focused on first generation female college students interested in pursuing a graduate degree. The program was focused on mentoring prospective graduate students and helping them navigate preparing for the application process, and at the end of the program, each of us received a waiver for the GRE. There was even a surplus of funds, which allowed them to provide additional waivers for some of us to take the subject test as well. The GRE is very expensive (especially if you take it more than once), so this program was definitely a huge help to me financially.

Unfortunately, applying to graduate school is costly and can pose a financial burden on you and your family if you aren’t prepared. But planning ahead for everything you will have to pay for during this process will help lessen some of the stress. While it is an investment in your future, it doesn’t hurt to save some money along the way. Taking a little extra time will be the difference between a few hundred dollars to a possible few thousand dollars. Using the tips above, I personally cut my estimated application costs by over half.