Affording a quality college education can be challenging. There are many options for scholarships and grants to offset costs. But college students often rely on loans to help them get through school.
College students pay an average tuition price of $9,400 at public colleges. At private, non-profit universities the amount is much higher – $36,700 each year. The cost for public college tuition is up 13 percent over the last decade. At private, non-profit schools, it’s been about an 18 percent increase in tuition expenses over the last ten years.
Trimming off excess expenses is essential to keeping your academic dreams alive. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to save a few bucks.
College admission refers to the process by which individuals apply for and are accepted into colleges or universities. It typically involves:
- submitting an application
- letters of recommendation
- essays or personal statements
- possibly an interview
The admission process may also consider factors like:
- extracurricular activities
- community involvement
- diversity considerations
Each college or university has its own specific admission requirements and criteria, and decisions are usually made by an admissions committee or office based on a holistic evaluation of the applicant’s qualifications and fit for the institution.
One of the easiest things to do is to apply for online schools with small or no college application fees. Many colleges require an application fee to cover the postage, processing, and review of admissions forms. Application fees generally range from $30 to $60 apiece. Selective schools like Stanford charge up to $90! Paying for college applications is similar to gambling because there’s no guarantee the college will even accept you. Steering clear of hefty fees can help you apply to a wider reach of schools for less money.
Of course, you can apply for online colleges that have a reputation for being more affordable. Fortunately, many excellent schools have a good reputation for academics and affordability. This means you can save money without sacrificing on the quality of education you get.
There are colleges that offer free applications, waiving the usual application fees. Some colleges have specific policies to provide free applications for all applicants, while others offer fee waivers based on certain criteria such as financial need or participation in specific programs.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best online colleges without an application fee to simplify your school search.
See Also: Financial Aid Tips for Online College
Methodology for Colleges With No Application Fee
We began by sourcing more than 400 online colleges applications that are free. Prospective schools were narrowed down based on accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Then, we determined which accredited universities had remote programs available 100 percent online. Having at least three online programs was required to qualify.
Next, we focused on schools with good reputations in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. We also factored in selectivity, flexibility, online technology, and teaching awards to arrive at this list.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list of cheap online colleges without application fee:
Free Applications Colleges
1. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton is a highly desirable school for getting a master’s degree. Like undergraduate programs, graduate programs don’t have an associated application fee.
U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Dayton as 127th among national universities. The school is also regarded as the 37th best value school in the country.
The University of Dayton’s Online Learning Division offers small, asynchronous online classes for completing your degree. There are about a dozen-and-a-half programs available completely online for graduate students.
For example, online students can apply to the M.S.E. Educational Leadership, MBA, or M.S. Engineering Management for free. Other options include:
- M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis
- MBAN in Business Analytics
- M.S. in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy
- M.S. in Interdisciplinary Education Studies
- M.S. in Renewable and Clean Energy
The graduate school at the University of Dayton also features various certificate programs. Options include:
- Systems and Architecture Analytics
- Strategic Public Relations
- Modeling and Simulation
- Health communication
The University of Dayton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $29,928 per year (including tuition and fees). Check with the University of Dayton financial aid office for details about scholarships and other aid.
For more about the University of Dayton’s Online College Application Fee Free Degree Programs, go here.
2. Tulane University
Tulane University is in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a medium-sized, private, non-profit school. You can earn bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees from the university. There are also various certificate programs available.
The school has more than 8,500 undergraduate students. Some of these students study on-campus while many others study online from locations around the world.
This is a highly-regarded school. It ranks 42nd among national universities and 34th among most innovative schools. Tulane gets high marks for being a good value, too. It’s ranks 80th in the nation on that metric.
You can choose from a variety of online graduate programs at Tulane. This includes:
- MPH in Community Health Sciences
- MPS in Cybersecurity Management
- MM in Entrepreneurial Hospitality
- Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law
Tulane offers many graduate-level certificate programs, too. Some of the most popular options include:
- K-12 Educational Leadership
- Nonprofit and Strategic Philanthropy Management
- Sport Administration
- Technology Architecture
Note that you must be a Tulane undergraduate student or alumni to qualify for the free application fee waiver. Only some online programs qualify for the free application as well.
Tulane is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Tuition: $39,749 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Tulane University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
3. Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago is a private, non-profit Roman Catholic university. It has six campuses with over 11,500 undergraduate students. You can choose from many different undergraduate and graduate programs. There are also doctoral studies and certificate programs available online.
In fact, you can choose from more than two-and-a-half dozens master’s programs. Since this is a religious school, many of its master’s degrees deal with religious studies. For example, you can choose from:
- Several M.A. in Pastoral Studies tracks
- Two M.A. in Christian Spirituality tracks
- One M.A. in Divinity track
Loyola University Chicago also offers online graduate programs in:
- Healthcare Leadership
- Health Sciences and Public Health
- Social Work
U.S. News and World Report ranks Loyola University Chicago as the 103rd best national university in the U.S. The school is also recognized as the 95th best college for value. Other rankings include 48th among the best undergraduate teaching programs and 39th in best undergraduate engineering programs.
Loyola University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. You can access their free online college application by clicking the link just below.
Tuition: $36,434 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Loyola University Chicago’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
4. Maryville University
Next on the list of online colleges with free application is Maryville University. This is an accredited, private liberal arts institution. It’s located in St. Louis, Missouri, where it was founded in 1872. Currently, the university has around 5,500 undergraduate students.
There are about a dozen master’s degree programs available online from Maryville. There is a also a selection of doctoral programs, should you wish to continue your studies beyond a graduate degree. Several online certificate programs are available, too.
Among the popular graduate degree offerings are:
- M.S. in Accounting
- M.S. in Artificial Intelligence
- M.S. in Software Development
- M.A. in Management and Leadership
- M.S. in Data Science
There are also five different M.S. in Nursing concentrations.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Maryville is the 202nd best national university. The school also ranks highly for social mobility, for which it ranks 66th in the nation.
Maryville has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission
Tuition: $27,290 per year (including tuition and fees). Maryville University’s financial aid office can assist you in finding funding to pay for your schooling.
For more about Maryville University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
5. University of Scranton
Nestled in Pennsylvania’s Lacakawanna River Valley, the University of Scranton is a private, co-educational Jesuit institution. There are about 3,500 undergraduate learners on campus and online
The university’s online graduate school offers about two dozen different programs. You can choose from:
- MHA in Health Informatics
- Master of Accountancy in Forensic Accounting
- MBA in Finance
- M.S. in Business Analytics
There are many certificate programs available online from the graduate school as well. Some of these options include:
- Supply Chain Management
- Health Administration
- Online Enterprise Resource Planning
The University of Scranton ranks 5th among regional universities in the north. It also ranks 45th among best value schools. Its admission application is free, of course.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the accrediting agency for the University of Scranton.
Tuition: $34,378 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about the University of Scranton’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
6. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Technical University is the next on the list of online colleges without application fee. This is an accredited, for-profit polytechnic institution. It’s located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but has students worldwide taking courses for online programs. There are more than 24,000 undergraduate students at CTU.
There are nearly three dozen online graduate programs available at this school. This places it near the top of the list in terms of program variety.
Some of the most popular online graduate programs at CTU include:
- Criminal Justice
- Healthcare Management
- Information Technology
CTU also offers multiple tracks in Business Administration, including:
- Data Analytics
- Global Leadership
No matter which online master degree you choose, you’ll get it from a school that ranks in the top 400 of national universities. The school also ranks 288th in social mobility.
Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $17,203 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Colorado Technical University’s Online College Applications and Degree Programs, go here.
7. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University began as the Marion Normal College. It’s a private, non-profit Methodist liberal arts institution. Its endowment is more than $201 million.
This is a small school in the sense that there are only about 2,600 undergraduates on campus. But with online programs and graduate students, the student body is actually much larger. In fact, there are more than 6,400 online undergrads.
IWU is the Midwest’s 19th best regional college and 64th top value school. Its undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs include many online options. For example, you can choose from:
- Business Administration
- English as a New Language
There are also several public administration tracks and various education tracks, including special education. Check the university’s admissions policy for specific details on how to apply for free.
Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $18,904 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Indiana Wesleyan University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
8. University of St. Francis
The next entry on our list of the best online colleges is the University of Saint Francis. This university is in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The University is a private, co-educational Roman Catholic institution. There are around 1,700 undergraduate students on campus
As a four-year university, Saint Francis offers various bachelor degrees and master degrees. You can choose from challenging, yet accessible programs like:
- M.S. in Health Administration
- M.S. in Reading
- M.S. in Teaching and Learning
There are actually 10 different areas of concentration for the Teaching and Learning Degree. This allows you to customize your learning plan to suit your career goals.
The University of Saint Francis ranks 42nd among best value schools in the nation. It’s also 69th among regional universities in the Midwest.
Regional accreditation for this university comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $18,389 per year (including tuition and fees). This school is one of the least expensive for online education on this list. But, financial aid is still available to help offset costs.
For more about the University of St. Francis’ Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
9. Brescia University
Brescia University got its start by the Ursuline Sisters in 1925. It’s a private, co-educational Catholic college in Owensboro, Kentucky
This is a very small school. There are just over 800 undergraduate students on campus. With online programs, though, the university has a much larger reach.
If you want to get an online graduate degree, you can choose from many options, including:
- M.S. in Clinical Psychology
- M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology
Brescia University isn’t limited to graduate programs online, either. You can also complete associate’s programs, bachelor’s programs, or certificate programs. Check the admission requirements to see if you qualify for enrollment.
This school ranks highly on a number of metrics. It comes in at number 15 in best value schools and 31st among regional colleges in the south. Brescia also ranks 62nd for social mobility.
This university is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Tuition: $13,831 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Brescia University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
10. Arizona State University
Arizona State University is a co-ed, public school. It has a robust online student body with more than 40,000 students enrolled around the world. In fact, ASU is one of the largest online schools in the nation.
With 120 online graduate programs available, ASU has one of the largest selections of degrees among schools on this list. Just a few of your options include:
- M.S. in Business Analytics
- M.S. in Crime Analysis
- M.A. in Education
- M.A. in English
- M.A. in Global Security
There are many other options for prospective students in the areas of behavioral science, languages, and nursing.
In addition to having so many online programs available, ASU is also well-regarded academically. It ranks first among schools for innovation and 54th among top public schools. The university also ranks 117th among national universities and 139th for best value.
Arizona State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $13,107 per year (for tuition and fees)
For more about Arizona State University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
11. Dallas Baptist University
The next entry on our list of accredited online colleges without application fee is Dallas Baptist University. While the school might have “Dallas” in the name, but it has campuses in other Texas cities. Their virtual learning platform extends the school’s reach far beyond the state’s borders.
This is an accredited private, Protestant liberal arts college. There are about 2,700 undergraduate students.
As a graduate student, you can select from a host of online degree options. For example, you can get an MBA or a Master of Arts in Management. DBU also has online courses and programs in:
- Liberal Arts
Additionally, you can choose master’s degrees in the areas of ministry and professional development.
DBU ranks 288th among national universities according to U.S. News and World Report. The school’s accrediting agency is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Tuition: $25,301 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Dallas Baptist University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
12. Point Park University
Point Park University is in downtown Pittsburgh. It’s a private, career-focused liberal arts college with around 2,800 undergraduate students
There are many different programs you can choose from to complete your online degree at Point Park. In fact, the University currently offers 18 different online master degree programs. You can choose from options like:
- M.A. in Intelligence and Global Security
- M.Ed. in Secondary Education
- M.A. in Community Psychology
There are also many online bachelor’s degree programs and doctoral programs available online. There are certificate programs as well.
Point Park has the distinction of being in numerous top-100 categories on U.S. News and World Report. It’s 22nd among best value schools and 50th among the best colleges for veterans. The university is also 82nd among regional universities in the north.
Point Park University has regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Tuition: $21,600 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Point Park University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
13. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University is an innovative, private distance learning institution. It is one of the largest online learning providers on this list with more than 100,000 online students that study full-time and part-time.
There are more than 200 online degree programs between the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs at SNHU. Of those, there are more than 30 master’s programs from which you can choose. Some programs even have multiple areas of concentration.
For example, you can get an M.S. in Marketing with a concentration in:
- Digital Marketing
- Marketing Research Analytics
- New Media and Communications
- Social Media Marketing
The University has many favorable rankings, not the least of which is being number one on the list of most innovative schools. SNHU ranks in the top 171 of regional universities in the north as well.
SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).
Tuition: $42,645 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Southern New Hampshire University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
14. Michigan Technological University
Michigan Tech is in Houghton, Michigan, and has around 5,500 students on campus. The university has many more online students. You can pursue any number of certificate programs, master’s degrees, and doctorates.
The widest selection of online programs at Michigan Tech are certificates. For example, you can get a certificate in:
- Fundamentals of Materials Engineering
- Security and Privacy in Healthcare
- Vehicle Dynamics
- Control Systems
There are master’s degrees programs in Applied Statistics, Civil Engineering, and Health Informatics, among many others.
Michigan Tech ranks 67th among top public schools. It’s also the 148th best national university.
The accrediting agency for Michigan Tech is the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $15,384 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Michigan Technological University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
15. Baker University
Baker University is a small, private, non-profit school. It’s located in the Great Plains in Baldwin City, Kansas. There are just over 1,300 students on campus. However, Baker offers dozens of online degrees that allow students from all over the country to get their degree.
If you want to go to graduate school, Baker offers nine different degree options. These include many options in education:
- Master of Science in Instructional Design & Performance Technology
- Master of Arts in Education
- Master of Science in School Leadership
- Master of Science in Special Education
- Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership
- Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
You can also pursue a graduate degree in Business Administration, Nursing, or Sports Management. An application form can be found on the Baker University website linked below.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Baker University is the 263rd best national university. It also ranks 202nd for social mobility.
International students have until December 1 to apply for admission.
Baker University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition: $22,374 per year (including tuition and fees)
For more about Baker University’s Online Application Fees and Degree Programs, go here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there other online colleges with no application fee?
Yes. There are many other schools with no college application fees.
In fact, many online colleges accept an application fee waiver request from students with limited financial means. Qualified learners typically must fall within income guidelines. To qualify for a college application fee waivers, you must:
- participate in state welfare programs
- receive reduced price lunches (from a national school lunch program)
- be a foster child
Some colleges may provide a fee waiver based on:
- financial need
- academic merit
- military service
It’s best to research and contact individual online colleges directly to inquire about their fee waiver programs and the requirements for eligibility. The availability of fee waivers may vary among institutions, so it’s important to check with each college for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
If you’re in high school, your school’s guidance counselor can provide greater assistance with this waiver form. If you’re a first-time student, you can check with your desired school’s admissions office. With this waiver in hand, you can greatly expand your college search.
If you aren’t eligible, you can use this list to apply for online colleges that don’t have an application fee to begin with! Remember – to apply to colleges online takes a lot of hard work, time, and effort. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin filling out your applications.
Is the process to apply to online colleges different from on-campus colleges?
While there might be small differences, the college admission process for applying to an online college and a traditional college are really very similar.
For example, if you’re in high school, you’ll likely need to submit documentation like:
- High school transcripts
- A copy of your dimploma or GED
- Letters of recommendation
- ACT or SAT test scores (though these test scores aren’t always required)
- Satisfactory GPA
Some colleges and universities might have additional requirements in their application process. For example, a personal interview might be part of the admissions process. If you Google “online colleges application,” you’ll see that minor differences exist among schools.
Each of the schools in this ranking will have slightly different admissions processes. But, the common trait is that they have no application fees!
Are there online colleges with open enrollment and no application fee?
Yes. You just have to find the schools that meet these criteria.
You can start with this list of no application fee schools. You can narrow your search by investigating which of the schools on this list (if any) have open enrollment.
If you’re not sure what open enrollment is, it means that the only requirement for college admissions is that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Usually, junior colleges and community colleges have open enrollment. But, some four-year schools also offer this minimum application qualification.
When is a typical application deadline?
The most popular application deadlines are in January of each year. Many schools use January 1 as the deadline. Others use January 15.
But, there are many schools that have application deadlines that are at different points throughout the year. Some schools require application materials to be in sometime in November. Others require application packets to be postmarked by January 31st. In some cases, there is no application deadline.
For example, some universities have a rolling admissions system. When there’s rolling admissions, applications are reviewed as they’re received. Then, notice goes out to students on a rolling basis, rather than on a specific date.
In any case, it’s important to check with each school you’re interested in to determine exactly when application materials are due. Keep track in a calendar so you have ample warning when application packets must be completed and put in the mail. Then, once all your applications are off, it’s a matter of playing a waiting game to find out if you’ve been accepted.
Once you’re accepted, then you can look forward to the start dates for your studies!
Learn more about application fees by reading Why Are Colleges Dropping (or Entirely Eliminating) Application Fees? Also check out our list of the Top Accredited Online Colleges.