Senior year of high school is a busy and exciting time for most graduating students. However, it is also a very expensive time, and can seem overwhelming or even impossible for low-income students, particularly high-achieving ones that expect to take multiple AP exams, standardized tests, and submit applications to several colleges.

Financial experts estimate that senior year costs including senior year class activities and fees can run between $5,000-$10,000 depending on the school. Although it might be disappointing, social activities are optional, but foregoing exams and limiting college applications can have a significant impact on the future. Currently, parents can expect to pay $94 per AP exam, SAT and ACT exams cost about $65 each, and college applications can range between $30-$100 each, depending on the school.

For low-income families are is assistance available for these expenses.

SAT/ACT Fee Waivers

Income-eligible students can receive a fee waiver to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests for free and get other benefits to apply to college. An approved waiver grants students access to2 free SATs, 6 free SAT Subject Tests, and 2 free Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) or Student Answer Service (SAS) reports. They will also send unlimited score reports to universities to which the student will apply. Qualification for SAT fee waivers makes a student eligible to receive college application fee waivers.

ACT waivers cover 2 ACT exams and give students access to test prep materials including Kaplan Online Test prep.

Eligible students are those that qualify for free/reduced lunch or federal assistance programs, whose family income falls within the USDA income eligibility guidelines, students who are a ward of the state, or students who are orphaned.

Waivers are also available to homeschooled students provided that can provide qualifying income information.

AP Exam Fee Waivers

The College Board provides a $41 fee reduction per exam for students with financial need, resulting in a cost of $53 per exam. Their eligibility requirements are similar to SAT exam waivers, except they include homeless or migrant students, students in foster care or HeadStart, or students on Indian Reservations.

College Application Fee Waivers

Students that qualify for SAT waivers will automatically qualify for college applications waivers. Waivers must be used at one of 2,000 participating colleges, and are limited to 4 waivers per student. For students that are in need of more than 4 fee waivers, there are sometimes other federal programs to assist with fees, and in many cases, colleges can directly provide waivers to students.