One of the biggest worries that students have when applying to PhD programs has to do with, you guessed it, money! The process can be really expensive and if you are sending out multiple applications, the cost can add up very quickly. What may help to alleviate these costs are….
Fee waivers are great because they limit the amount of money that you have to pay for application fees. From what I’ve seen, these fees can range anywhere from $50 to $120 or more. In my experience, applicants can receive a fee waiver in two ways: (1) participating in a program that helps underrepresented students get to grad school (e.g., McNair, RISE, MARC) and (2) providing evidence (e.g., monthly expenses) that you will have a difficult time paying the fee because of your household income. Since I was a RISE scholar and a low-income student, I was able to get fee waivers for 7/8 programs I applied to. I only had to pay the application fee for the program I will be attending in the Fall since I applied to two programs at the same institution and could only get a fee waiver for one. If you are unable to get fee waivers for every college/university you are applying to, try your best to get fee waivers for those that tend to have high application fees (looking at you UC schools!).
NOTE: If you are planning on asking for a fee waiver because you have participated in one of the programs I mentioned before, be sure to check whether you have to provide a verification document (i.e., to confirm that you were actually in the program). Some schools will ask you to provide one from either the program coordinator or director, so keep that in mind!
NOTE: I’m not sure how fee waivers are going to be affected by COVID-19, but hopefully you all can still apply for them. *fingers crossed*